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Our first campaign in 2014, co-hosted with Francine Madera, focused on the future of Miami's libraries.

With funding cuts looming, some community leaders began asking whether libraries were even relevant to the needs of the community. We wanted to know what the community wanted to see at their libraries, and over the course of a 10-day period, we sourced more than 150 great ideas!

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We synthesized all comments and posts into the final report: 

In addition to publishing the top ideas in the final report, we shared our reflections in an article for the Huffington Post. We also sat down with the interim director of the Miami-Dade Public Library System, Gia Arbogast, as well as Michael Spring, Director of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. We also met with Enid Weisman, Mayor of Aventura, and heads of several foundations and organizations.

The ideas presented in the final report were well-received and many of them have since been implemented. Check out progress made below!


PROGRESS at Miami-Dade public libraries

  1. More hands-on learning opportunities, including maker spaces and media spaces
  2. Implementation of a mobile computer lab ("Technobus")
  3. RFP for coffee providers
  4. Technology and infrastructure upgrades
  5. More robust community programming
  6. An emphasis on community input
  7. Updated library design
  8. Updated branding and increased marketing efforts

1. HANDS-ON LEARNING

Many 100 Great Ideas participants suggested that the libraries incorporate hands-on learning opportunities. Yida Hernandez, for example, wrote that the libraries should “offer university-grade research facilities and hands-on, collaborative, project-based spaces to explore STEAM subjects.” In addition, Daniel Applewhite imagined libraries as hubs of entrepreneurial activity with 3D printers and laser cutters.

Since the 100 Great Ideas campaign, the library system has implemented the following programs:

  • YOUMake Miami Makerspaces allow makers 8+ years to create, explore, invent and learn. Makerspaces include opportunities for 3D design, 3D printing, graphic design, sewing, video production, photography, jewelry making, music production, painting, robotics/LEGO, and arts & crafts. Locations: Miami Beach Regional Library and West Kendall Regional Library.
  • YOUmedia Miami spaces are places where teens can create podcasts, mix music, design video games, produce films, read books, explore technology, or just be themselves. Locations: North Dade Regional Library and South Dade Regional Library.

  • The library system has also deployed several Mobile Makerspaces for use in smaller branch locations to ensure availability of these STEAM learning experiences in additional areas of the County.

 
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YOUmake Miami makerspace

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2. MOBILE COMPUTER LAB: "Technobus"

Participant Jaret Davis suggested that the libraries should “create mobile virtual libraries with IT infrastructure that could access online research material.”

In 2017, MDPLS launched Technobus (a mobile computer lab) that targets at-risk teens in after-school programs, adult job seekers, and seniors who look to learn computer basics and stay connected to the world. The mobile technology lab travels to schools, rehabilitation centers, youth shelters, women's shelters, seniors centers, parks and special events to bring the library's services to those who would most likely never have access to high-end technology and instruction.

 
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3. COFFEE

The most popular idea in the entire campaign was to serve coffee (mentioned by participants James Echols, Angelika Schlanger, and others). Good news from MDPLS: amenities such as concessions and café’s are regularly requested by MDPLS customers, and MDPLS will be doing a Request for Proposals to establish these services in several of their larger locations!

 

 
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4. TECH AND INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADES

Participant Maxeme Tuchman suggested that the library have “spaces with free and reliable Wi-Fi and up-to-date technology.” Since the campaign, the library system has made many strides towards upgrading it’s systems, including enhancing the network infrastructure, providing increased bandwidth, faster connections, and more reliable (and free!) Wi-Fi and internet connectivity throughout all 50 library locations. Concurrent with these enhancements, the library system is completing the third year of a 3-year computer replacement plan for all public and staff computers, which will provide faster computers on updated operating system platforms.

 
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5. COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING

100 Great Ideas participants, including Yida Hernandez and Melissa Dynan, suggested additional opportunities to utilize the libraries as community hubs. In alignment with that perspective, MDPLS Director Ray Baker shared: “We believe that we are well beyond the stereotype of the library as only a place of quiet reading and research.”

In the past few years, MDPLS has significantly expanded their community programming and the events calendar is regularly booked with:

  • art events;
  • author talks;
  • book clubs;
  • music and dance shows;
  • coding and language classes; and,
  • events hosted by partners seeking to educate or inform the public on a variety of topics.

In addition, the libraries encourage use of their meeting rooms and offer non-profit organizations free meeting rooms for up to four hours per month. Career assistance, language and writing classes, art instruction, and passport services are just a few examples of “non-library” services that are provided at MDPLS libraries. In addition, MDPLS has expanded its online tutoring and learning offerings, which range from resume writing to technology training.

 
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6. COMMUNITY INPUT

Participant Ezequiel Williams expressed “I wish the library invested in investigating people’s needs and wants across stakeholder segments. Why do people go to the library? Why do non-goers stay away?“

Over the past few years, MDPLS has focused on gathering input from the public. Director Ray Baker shared: “Over the last several months, we have been going through a strategic planning process that solicited feedback through community forums, ‘contact us’ invitations, and through social media. Additionally, input from the public and from groups such as ‘100 Great Ideas’ has helped steer many of the changes we have implemented over the past few years and will continue to shape programs and services going forward. We believe that the foundation of a world-class library system must be built on meeting the local, community-focused needs of our customers and that feedback from the public is welcome and crucial to our success.”   

 
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7. UPDATED DESIGN

Participant Blanca Mesa noted that “libraries need an internal makeover.” MDPLS clearly agreed, and over the past few years have successfully completed several facility renovations with several more in progress. Newer facilities, such as the Northeast-Dade Aventura and Bay Harbor Islands locations reflect the design and ambience that the MDPLS is looking to achieve throughout the entire library system. In addition, library customers should expect to see amenities such as more places to connect personal devices, more comfortable furniture, study rooms, activity areas, and, in general, design more reflective of today’s world.

 
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8. BRANDING AND MARKETING

Many 100 Great Ideas participants, including Bridgette Love, Ricci Yuhico, Ana J. Colls, and Francine Madera, commented that the libraries need to get the word out about what they offer in order to increase community engagement. Post-campaign, the library took this advice to heart. They expanded their social media presence (you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter!), cross-promotion with community partners, radio interviews, news releases, outreach to community groups, and communications with their users through a newsletter (sign up here!).

 
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ADDITIONAL UPDATES?

If you are aware of additional updates that you would suggest we include here, please email Sarah Emmons at s@radicalpartners.net and include relevant information/links. Thank you!