Much of our thinking in the library community these days is focused on the transition from the real to the virtual: the challenges of moldy oxidation giving way to bit rot, and the uneasy feeling that Google is making our profession less relevant. The opening keynote at the British Columbia Library Conference took a different tack.
The theme of the meeting – creativity in libraries – started tonight with a take on creativity relating to the role of libraries in public spaces. Fred Kent and Cynthia Nikitin of the Project for Public Spaces spoke about the importance of public spaces in general, and the role of libraries as central to those spaces. The concept of making community hubs of libraries is not new, of course, and the principles that Fred and Cynthia espouse you’ve probably heard before… Design cities around cars, and you’ll attract more cars. Design cities around people, and you’ll get places that people will use.
What was inspiring about this presentation was the collection of examples and principles tossed in a dressing of enthusiasm, humor, and passion for reclaiming public spaces. And they told us how to do it. If you’re part of a community planning a new library or renovations to an existing one, and you want it to work better as a public place, these folk deserve some of your attention.
A great start to the conference.
late summer grasses from a visit to Vancouver in 2006