If you noticed unusual activities popping up in and around 310 North Tryon Street last summer, that was by design. Public Commons @ Main Library was a series of events meant to test new opportunities for people to participate in Main Library programs.
The Library worked with MACHINE, a New York-based design and ideation firm, to finalize a vision for the future of Main Library. Part of this work was prototyping different ways to involve the Charlotte Mecklenburg community and create a dynamic destination that brings the community together. The prototypes ranged from events and spaces to special access to Main and collaborations with local artists and innovators.
The first prototype, Jazz at the Market, featured a lunchtime concert by Charlotte's own Jazz Revolution and took place outside at the Seventh Street Public Market. The backdrop to the music was a set of fun facts about music in Charlotte, with content and images sourced directly from the Library’s Carolina Room. The event also featured express Library card signups, and “blind date with a book” – an opportunity to check out a book without seeing the cover, based on Library staff descriptions. Our goal was to learn whether people would want Main Library to host musical events (yes), could we catch the attention of a new crowd (yes, especially parents headed back from ImaginOn) and what it feels like to partner with our neighbors (it was great!).
The second was a lunchtime panel discussion called Charlotte Time Capsule. Two local historians – Brenda Tindal from the Levine Museum and Shelia Bumgarner of the Carolina Room - and longtime resident and former journalist Susan Patterson shared stories of our city’s past, present and future, moderated by another longtime resident, Sam Shapiro of the Library. We learned that people will bring their lunch to Main Library for a compelling subject, if the program is timed to coincide with a traditional lunch hour.
Public Commons @ Main Library events continued through July, and we were pleased that so many community members participates – Main Library belongs to everyone, you can help us make it yours. Prototypes will continue throughout the year. Contact us if you have questions or ideas.