From access to information to access to each other: Why public libraries should develop innovation spaces


We will argue that libraries, in optimizing how they deploy computer and internet technology for people to meet their information needs, have unknowingly overlooked and even inhibited the use of computers for the purposes of creativity and innovation. Specifically, we suggest that there is a vast and unmet demand for physical environments, built around the notion of ‘access to each other’, environments that foster innovation. These innovation spaces, as we call them, can leverage features of the library that are common throughout the world: the physical space and the strong community presence. We start by discussing the concept of innovation, what it is, and how it occurs. Then we introduce the idea of innovation spaces, physical spaces that embody the principles of what stimulates innovation, and describe different types of innovation spaces in society. Lastly, we return the focus to libraries and discuss opportunities and barriers to introducing innovation spaces in library settings.

Recommended Citation

UNISA Library. (2014). African Library Summit 2013: The Horizon and Beyond. Randburg: Knowres Publishing. (Edited by: Buhle Mbambo-Thata, Jenny Raubenheimer and Terry Lynne Harris)


libraries, innovation spaces, public libraries, maker spaces, coworking