Via Ariel Aberg-Riger's Twitter feed, I came across the Library as Incubator Project, a collaboration that "highlights the ways that libraries and artists can work together:"
At a time in which both libraries and arts organizations are often having to do more with less, it makes sense for these two parts of our culture to support each other. The Library as Incubator Project calls attention to one of the many reasons libraries are important to our communities and our culture, and provides a dynamic online forum for sharing ideas.
On one hand, I certainly understand that this is two great tastes that taste great together, that a project like this isn't just (or needn't just be) a rear-guard action by two embattled institutions.
But at the same time, I can't help but read this as another example of libraries seeking to remain relevant by jettisoning an incredibly important role they had in our culture and private lives-- namely, as spaces in which to practice contemplative forms of scholarly and intellectual work, in public, and in the supportive (if normally pretty silent) company of others.
I think I need to ask some librarians about this. I can read from recent library floor plans and articles in Library Journal that the trend in design is to have more flexible, collaborative, hot-desking type space for patrons (I'm not as sure about what goes on behind the counter), but I'm now starting to wonder what they're teaching in those places formerly known as library schools, and what practitioners themselves-- the people who actually deal with the patrons who use the facility, rather than the Patrons who give the matching grants to build the new wing-- think about all this.