“This is so cool. This is so cool,” the woman keeps repeating, looking around. It’s a little over 24 hours since we opened the Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons at Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and I’m watching patrons get acclimated to the new space.
Amid all the riches of New York City’s three fantastic public library systems, the Info Commons is the first of its kind– an integrated learning venue with separate sections for individual work, private meetings, and public classes and workshops. It fits in with BPL’s recently-released strategic plan, which emphasizes education and access, among other pillars of service.
The Info Commons consists of the main workspace, a training lab, and seven reservable
meeting rooms, one of which is set up as a recording studio for video and audio projects. The workspace offers PC and Mac desktop computers with a number of creative software programs, plus lots and lots of outlets for laptop users. The meeting rooms can be used by patrons for gatherings not limited to study groups, book discussions, and meetings, and we’ve also moved some library-led programming into them, such as one-on-one resume help and language conversation groups. This is the first time BPL has been able to offer these kinds of meeting spaces to our public!
The lab hosts classes and other events, including a roster of digital media workshops led by the local organization BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn. The tablet-arm chairs are freestanding and can be moved into whatever arrangement the instructor or facilitator prefers, including in conjunction with full-sized tables on wheels. We also have both PC and Mac laptops available for student use during trainings. And in the spirit of tapping into the expertise outside as well as inside the organization, our full schedule invites members of the community who want to teach or lead an event to get in touch with us.
As the NYC blog Brownstoner put it, ”We think the focus on media creation, in addition to research and information access, is interesting. Sign of the times.” And we at BPL are excited to learn–and share–what our public ends up using the Info Commons to do and make. Stay tuned!