With the community nearly united at both meetings organized by the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development (DMPED) in favor of a stand-alone library at the current site, we’ve been discussing approaches for the future. Always on the prowl for how to improve Southwest, the SW BID’s Steve Moore keyed us into a successful model in Europe.
Guided by patron surveys, library administrators in the Dutch town of Almere reinvented their library into a thriving community hub. They found new, more attractive ways to arrange their books and trained staff in new customer service techniques. They built a free co-working space. They offer consultation sessions for literacy and digital skills. They installed a networking platform that connects people based on their knowledge and skills. They have a bustling cafe, an extensive event & music program, a gaming facility, a reading room, and more.
In response, the percentage of residents using the library soared. And rather than patrons dropping in to check out a book and running out, the patrons lingered. They met one another, they browsed for books or other media, they sat down for a cup of coffee and consulted, studied, worked, or enjoyed a musical event. Ultimately, the library has become the largest and most successful cultural organization in the city.
We’re looking forward to DMPED proceeding with the retail/residential development approved by the Southwest community nearly ten years ago. At the same time, let’s start planning for a revitalized community center adjacent to our newest playground and park.
By: Kael Anderson