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SXSW Interactive 2015

Coworking, Creating, Doing Business @ your library

About 40% of US workers will be in temp, freelance and self-employed work by 2020. Responding to this need, US public libraries are becoming a new force in coworking. Hundreds of libraries support cowork and mobile work spaces—leveraging tech and social networks, specialized content and staff, and convenient locations, according to the first library study to track these trends.

Open one year, the DC Public Library Dream Lab has attracted 56 members, including MapStory, an online social cartographic platform, to collaborate and use technologies to develop and sustain new ventures. In exchange for free coworking space, each member provides an hour or more of public programming per month related to information technologies—extending the social network and empowering the community in a transformative way. The library also hosts DC Tech-Meetup.

Coworking and small business collaborations are changing libraries and communities as we know them—and building a stronger knowledge economy.

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  1. Using DC Public Library and MapStory as a representative example, why are libraries particularly good partners for entrepreneurs and start-ups?
  2. WTF of libraries in the digital economy?
  3. How can these new library collaborations not only support start-ups but transform communities and create a stronger AND more inclusive knowledge economy?
  4. Thinking of MapStory and similar start-ups, what are some specific synergies between libraries and open data, open source, crowd-sourcing and sharing economy applications?
  5. What are the greatest opportunities for and challenges to these kinds of transformative partnerships, and how might we maximize or minimize them?



Larra Clark, Program Director, American Library Association

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Work and Career
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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