Public libraries have always been home to makers. Ben Franklin reportedly did some of his earliest electrification experiments at his Philadelphia library. As the nature of work becomes more entrepreneurial and networked, public libraries are becoming a new force in coworking and collaboration. Hundreds of libraries now support cowork and mobile work spaces—leveraging place, tech and staff, according to the first study to track these trends.
About a year ago, DC’s MLK Library began transforming itself into a place for diverse residents to connect, learn and "make" ideas into reality. The Dream Lab has attracted 56 entrepreneurial projects to fulfill this vision. Each member offers free monthly programming to engage the public in their efforts and ideas. MapStory, an online social cartographic platform that empowers users to map historical change over time, is one.
These collaborations are catalyzing learning and action, and building a stronger knowledge economy for all as a result.