We’ve been asking a lot of questions – and that’s the point of the Public Commons @ Main Library events in and around Main Library. The programs have been a lot of fun for participants and for staff, and each is designed to answer a specific question. Here’s what we’ve been asking over the last few weeks:
Will people spend time outside Main Library if we provide a comfortable setting in which to do so?
Answer? Look no further than The Park at Main. This outdoor environment at the corner of Sixth and Tryon has temporarily transformed an under-utilized plaza into an urban respite complete with bistro tables, shade, games, a daily event calendar, nearby food trucks, and best of all – people coming together and mingling with one another over a game of cornhole or a book recommendation. We’ve observed strangers deeply engrossed in a game of chess (or an impromptu lesson) and nearby organizations have already reached out with suggestions about how to further activate the space with music, speakers and other ideas. Look for pop-up programs in the pop-up park beginning soon!
Will uptown workers and residents come to Main Library for lunchtime or after-work recreation?
Yes to both – but more prefer after work. We offered Zen Out at Main, a free yoga and meditation session taught by professional instructors, at both times of day in Francis Auditorium. Participants provided very positive feedback at both sessions, and overwhelmingly agreed that if offered on a regular schedule, they’d attend weekly…and would even be willing to pay a nominal fee per class.
Can the Library serve as a home-base for uptown activities?
It can, and many believe it should. The Uptown Inside Out Tour, led by Tom Hanchett of History South, is a one-hour walking tour of uptown’s art, architecture, and stories...much of which has been researched and documented in the Library’s Robinson-Spangler North Carolina Room. We started the popular tour in the Carolina Room, with an overview and introduction from archivist Hannah Cox. Many of the history buff participants were unaware of the artifacts, special collections, documents, and online resources available for free to research the history of their own family, the city, or the region. The tour itself was fascinating, and Tom worked in mentions of the Library’s role in the city’s story wherever possible. At the end of the tour, several of the 25 participants asked about future events.
And can a room of strangers work together to solve a common problem?
We believe so. To test this theory, and the Library’s role in facilitating dialogue around community issues, we invited about a dozen creative Charlotteans from different backgrounds to participate in a Design-a-thon, an intensive hour-long brainstorming session around a specific question. The group first chose a community challenge to solve – in this case, how to make Charlotte a kinder, friendlier place to live, work and play together – and participants devised ways to encourage a more polite society. Our favorite idea? Help manners go viral on social media by posting and passing along messages of positivity.
Watch the Library Foundation’s Facebook page for Public Commons @ Main Library events through July, and please participate – Main Library belongs to everyone, help us make it yours. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or ideas.