Miami-Dade Libraries Awarded Grant To Develop Co-Working Space

Jun 10, 2015

Miami-Dade's main library.
Credit Miami-Dade County Public Library System / Courtesy

The Miami-Dade Public Library System is trying to find a way to stay relevant in the digital age.

It’s getting a bit of help from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which recently awarded it a $35,000 grant to prototype a co-working space.

Co-working spaces, workplaces shared by freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other independent professionals, have grown in popularity in recent years, as the workforce increasingly telecommutes and turns over from job to job.

Gia Arbogast, interim director of the Miami-Dade Public Library System, said the co-working space is just one among a range of new services the library is exploring to adapt to the digital age.

“Referencing, co-working spaces, business incubators, maker spaces, creation labs, more YouMedia Miami projects… those are absolutely things that are on the horizon for us,” said Arbogast. YouMedia is an afterschool program that teaches teens how to use technology.

Marilu Kernan, a library patron and investor in early childhood education companies, said she’d like to bring a program that teaches middle schoolers to code to the library. She herself learned to code through a privately run crash course last summer and thinks that more young people need to learn the skill.

But, she said, “People don’t have that kind of time, and they don’t have that kind of money.” An after-school program at a library, by contrast, would make learning code both affordable and accessible.

Arbogast and Kernan were both attending an event hosted by the Knight Foundation at Miami-Dade College on Monday night. The event, Rethinking Libraries in the Digital Age, focused on why libraries are still relevant in the digital age and how they can evolve to reflect the digital landscape.