Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces

Hot Springs Library
Hot Springs Library, Smart Spaces participant library

In 2019 OCLC received a supplemental grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services allowing for a second iteration of Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces, led by OCLC’s WebJunction program. A new cohort of 15 small and rural public libraries from across the US worked with their communities to reimagine and reconfigure their libraries into smart spaces for active learning. Participating libraries received guided orientation over a 15-month period, as well as sub-grants to support the creation of their new spaces and services.

What's a smart library space?

Smart library spaces are designed to meet the needs and desires of diverse communities. Smart spaces are where discovery and community intersect, fostering social connection among people of all ages by providing active learning that encourages exploration and play. Participating libraries engaged community members throughout the process of discovering their interests and involving them in design and construction of the physical spaces and delivery of programming for active learning.

Find out how the first cohort of Smart Space libraries made space for active learning. You can do it too!

  • The First Cohort of Smart Space Libraries: The original program led these 15 small and rural public libraries from across the country to reimagine and reconfigure their libraries into smart spaces.
  • Transformation Stories: Each library created space and programming aligned with the unique nature and needs of their community. These stories capture the trajectory of each transformation in pictures and words, showing the process before, during and after implementation of the Smart Spaces process.
  • Smart Space Videos: These brief (1-2 minutes) videos show the highlights of a selection of Smart Space libraries.
  • Making Space for Active Learning Course: This self-paced learning experience will guide you through the process of rethinking and reconfiguring physical space to make room for active learning and work with your community to create new services and programs. Enroll Now!
  • Toolkit for Creating Smart Spaces: WebJunction has created a toolkit using many of the project resources and stories, to help you re-envision your library’s place as a center of community learning.

The program was made possible by support from OCLC and a National Leadership Grant (project number LG-80-16-0039-16) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Association for Rural and Small Libraries was the implementation partner for the duration of the project; the Project for Public Spaces provided implementation support in the first round.


Most Recently Added

Smart Spaces are Community Places

Publish Date: Webinar / 27 April 2021

In this webinar, learn design thinking principles that can be used in collaboration with the community, to identify and meet space and programming needs for active learning.

Smart Space Transformations Transcend Library Closures

Publish Date: News / 12 March 2021

In the spring of 2020, the 15 small and rural libraries participating in WebJunction’s Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces project were on the verge of activating their newly transformed smart spaces with collaborative community programming;...

Taking the Plunge into Prototyping

Publish Date: News / 4 March 2021

After opening up a world of possibilities with community discovery and ideation brainstorming, the Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces libraries were ready to move on to the next step in the design thinking process: prototyping. Creating a prototype ...

Turning Community Input into Workable Ideas

Publish Date: News / 17 February 2021

In their community discovery process, the 15 libraries participating in the second round of Small Libraries Create Smart Spaces learned that community input is likely to lead to more questions than neat, complete answers. In sorting through the tangl...

Small Libraries Discover Their Communities

Publish Date: News / 9 February 2021

The design thinking process begins with a deep investigation into a community’s values, needs, and interests before rushing to develop space and service transformations. Forging connections and starting conversations with your community are essential...

Toolkit for Creating Smart Spaces

WebJunction offers a toolkit to help you re-envision your library’s place as a center of community learning. Explore more of the Toolkit for Creating Smart Spaces.