What is a Library?


  • This week’s guest speaker is Dr. Shawn Armington, Director, the Free Public Library of Flemington
  • Feb 12, next week’s scheduled speaker is Brandon Klevence from the Maker Jawn Initiative of the Free Library of Philadelphia
  • The week of Feb 19 we will brainstorm project ideas and form groups for your projects.
  • Feb 26 your group will formally present your project concept

Guest Speaker

Dr. Shawn Armington, Director, the Free Public Library of Flemington


Take 5 to stretch our legs and reflect on what we’ve heard so far today.

Design Notebook Discussion

Let’s take a few minutes to share and  discuss some of your design notebook entries from last week.


Ethnography 101

What is ethnography? In groups of 3, look around the room. Based on the evidence around the room, characterize the people who have used this room in the days and weeks before us.

Look up Clifford Geertz. What did he mean by “thick description?”

Part of this week’s homework will be to visit your local public library and use your powers of observation to do two things:

1. Inventory the Resources of the Library

What sorts of things would you expect a modern library to have available for its patrons? Make a checklist of resources, mapping each to the type of patron would likely use it. What resources are for librarians to use?

2. Observe and Record Patron Count & Characteristics

What types of information would we want to capture about our library’s patrons to get a sense of the library’s community? Age, education level, ethnicity, interests, are they part of a group? What kind of group (family, friends, class, club, etc)?


Next Week’s Guest Speaker

Please review the MakerJawn Initiative website and come prepared with questions for next week’s speaker.

Background Research

  1. Read Library as Infrastructure in Places Journal
  2. Visit your local library (see below for some suggestions).
    • Using the checklist we constructed in class, make an inventory of what the library has to offer its patrons (and librarians. Speak with the librarian to find out what’s most popular among patrons. What primary issues do the librarians face?
    • Stake out a strategic spot, make a note of the library, it’s location, the time and a brief description of your stakeout spot. Observe the patrons as they come and go, keeping a tally of the number of patrons you see, as well as the characteristics of each as we discussed in class.

Design Notebook

  1. Create a new page in your Design Notebook and title it “Library Visit” and today’s date. Summarize your findings from your visit and include links to your inventory and patron observations.
  2. Create another page in your Design Notebook and title it “Library as Infrastructure” and today’s date. Building on the discussion last week about Mediatech in Flemington, discuss the role you feel the library you visited plays in its community. To what degree is your library part of its community’s infrastructure as outlined in the Library as Infrastructure article?

*Assignments are due before class begins on Thursdays. Be prepared to present your work in class for discussion.

Suggested Libraries to Visit

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