The Public Library Innovation Exchange is a Knight Foundation-funded grant project to build collaborations between Media Lab researchers and public libraries across the US. The project has three components:
Here at the Media Lab, we are huge fans of public libraries. They provide far more than books to their visitors; they serve as community hubs for social change and innovation. From maker spaces to recording studios to early literacy programs, libraries are working hard to create open, collaborative, community-oriented environments where learning can flourish. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is also precisely the kind of learning environment the Media Lab aims to be and design for. Researchers here at the Media Lab are creating solutions to challenges that require community input, including preventing tick-borne disease, increasing data literacy, and engaging kids with code.
Many Media Lab projects are already collaborating with libraries to develop tools and gain valuable feedback. For example, Learning Beautiful’s Montessori-inspired toys for teaching children computer science and design principles were tested and implemented in collaboration with Chicago Public Library, ensuring that the toys are usable and engaging learning materials for libraries’ early childhood programs.
While many of the projects developed at the Media Lab start off as prototypes, the technologies invented and the products created are made to solve real problems. We hope that building these collaborations will bridge the gap between research output and hands-on community implementation at a greater scale.
Ultimately, we would love to see the outputs of Media Lab research implemented in public libraries across the country and thus accessible to the communities who can most benefit from their creation. We also aim to foster a community of collaborative innovation, where librarians and Media Lab researchers regularly work together to identify problems, dream up solutions, and make easy-to-use, sustainable products.
Are you a librarian interested in collaborating with the Media Lab or implementing these tools? Get in touch.