By Helen Bailey and Katherine McConachie
Media Lab researchers are teaming up with public librarians to design new projects and programs for libraries
Here at the MIT Media Lab, we are *big* fans of public libraries.
Which is why we’ve recently announced the Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX). This project, run by the ML Learning Initiative and supported by the Knight Foundation, aims to foster a community of collaborative innovation—where librarians and Media Lab researchers work together to identify community challenges, dream up new ways to address them, and create easy-to-use programs that offer public libraries new ways to support their patrons.
We have found that bringing librarians and Media Lab researchers together face-to-face is an important first-step to build trust and collaboration. That’s why a core component of PLIX is a series of residency exchanges, where public librarians and Media Lab researchers team up to work on a project together. This format allows us to spend time in the other’s context and to better understand how we can collaborate and how our different institutions work.
Today, we are very excited to announce our first cohort of five residency exchange teams, with Media Lab researchers from five different research groups and librarians from Akron, Boston, Cambridge, Charlotte, Columbia, Philadelphia, and St. Paul.
The first visit of these residency exchanges happened in January, when we welcomed Jordan Morris and Cecil Decker—two librarians from Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina—to the Media Lab. They’ve teamed up with Media Lab graduate student Kreg Hanning to design hands-on workshops to engage young library patrons in physical tinkering.