April 10, 2007

More Than Just Books: What Should a Library Be?

I was part of a focus group tonight to talk about ideas for the future of the Framingham library, part of a long-range planning process now underway. Despite the fact that I'm still bitter over Town Meeting's failure to approve rebuilding of the McAuliffe branch library, it was an interesting evening, offering a relatively rare opportunity to sit back and think about what we'd like for our community.

Ideas that came up repeatedly: Yes, it's important for the library to be a center of knowledge, where it can be stored, loaned out and shared. But people also want their 21st century library to be community centers, offering places to take classes, attend events, and even relax and socialize. We'd like it to be a "glue" stitching together disparate parts of the community, the one place where you could find out about other organizations' events. Several said they'd like the library more involved in the local arts community.

A great library would be a key "third place," that important additional public space so important in communities besides where people live and work.

I still think it's ridiculous we don't have a decent secondary library building in the northern half of Framingham, and wish we'd tried for an override to get the new branch built while we had a chance at 25% state funding....

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