This post originally appeared on Information Space, the blog of the iSchool at Syracuse University, on 20 October 2011.
I arrived at the Warehouse this weekend not knowing quite what to
expect; I was looking forward to a day of conversation and preparing to
create Little Free Libraries in Syracuse’s Near West Side. My head is
still buzzing with ideas, hopes and designs for the project. The Syracuse Little Free Library Project is a collaboration
between the School of Information Studies, the College of Visual &
Performing Arts, and the Near West Side Initiative. As part of the
interdisciplinary team on the project, I’m excited to be working with
people outside of the iSchool, and those inside it too!
9:45 am: Arrive bright-eyed &
bushy-tailed (get coffee), meet the other participants as they’re coming
in (drink coffee, get more) and get settled in (with coffee).
10:00 am: Greeted by the facilitators
(Jaime Snyder, Zeke Leonard, Maarten Jacobs and Jill Hurst-Wahl), we get
right to work. After a quick introduction to the concepts behind the
Little Free Library Project, and the Syracuse incarnation in particular,
we break into smaller groups and start discussions. It’s important to
note that every one of the groups included community members, design
students from VPA, and iSchool students as well–we kept changing groups
around throughout the day. Every facet of the project was represented in
every group, every time, throughout the day. The collaboration between
members of such different backgrounds was great to see and take part in!
We problem-solved as one unit, and could often make up for weaknesses
in ways that single discipline teams couldn’t have managed.
Our first topic of conversation was books–classic library material,
right? Interestingly, we didn’t start trying to organize them or figure
out what books to recommend, but instead the conversations focused on
ways that books had affected us. Many of us brought examples of “desert
island” books (ones we’d never want to be marooned without) and those
helped to spark memories of other books we’d all loved. In my section,
people spoke again and again about old favorites or even books to “fight
with” because of characters or situations that challenged our
1:00 pm: At this point, we split into small
groups and started to work on the next step: the design process! Our
interdisciplinary teams came up with some fantastic ideas, and once
again we discovered that we had more in common than we thought. We
considered colors, materials, shapes, sizes, dimensions, and talked some
more about what these Little Libraries might hold (Books? Magazines?
Games?). The design team from VPA had plenty of supplies on hand, and
each group was able to create a map of their ideas and designs for
2:30 pm: We reconvened as a large group for
the last time to reflect on the day’s work and talk about the next
steps. Librarians are armed and ready to consider the collections to
“seed” these libraries, designers have the prototypes to make, and
residents are hard at work deciding where these libraries should be
hosted. The day was deemed a great success, and we left excited for
We’ll be meeting together once all of the “homework” is done, so
check back to Information Space for more updates on the Syracuse Little
Free Library Project.
Do you have any ideas to share about Little Free Libraries? Let us know in the comments!