What will the public library look like in Gigatown, New Zealand? Will it feature rows and rows of worn print books, magazines and DVDs? Not if it is anything like the Chattanooga Public Library: the Gig Library in the Gig City!
This week on GigaNews we welcome Nate Hill, Deputy Director at Chattanooga’s Public Library and Gigatown guest blogger, to explain how libraries of the future are shaping up with the help of a fibre optic gigabit connection…
NATE: The rise of the internet as the primary conduit for knowledge exchange has changed public library services forever. In Chattanooga, TN (USA), we have transformed and reinvented a tired, stagnating public library into a vibrant, active centre for the production and consumption of knowledge and culture. The 4th Floor, our top-floor makerspace and civic laboratory, offers public access to 12,000 sq ft of tools, technology, connectivity, and event space for the entire Chattanooga community. The library’s equally cavernous youth services space bustles with activity as children learn not just by reading and watching, but by making, doing, and sharing.
Our innovative public library gets its internet service from an equally innovative partner: the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB). EPB is Chattanooga’s municipal electric power distributor and fibre optic based communications provider. EPB owns and operates the largest network of its kind in the US; the fibre optic network is both the communications backbone for EPB’s smart electric power grid and the foundation for EPB’s advanced communications services.
Active learning spaces featuring access to tools including 3D printers, electronic kits, laser and vinyl cutters and specialised computing resources are being built in public libraries across the globe. The difference is that EPB’s gigabit network gives Chattanooga Public Library users a competitive advantage. The gig network means we can provide our community with more knowledge and opportunities than anywhere else. So far, the library has been able to:
- Begin implementation of a next generation wireless network.
- Provide a frictionless online customer experience that is consistent with our pilot building’s WiFi capacity, i.e. the WiFi service is robust, no matter how many people are online in the library at the same time.
- Offer public access to gigabit connectivity for application development.
- Act as a public test space for social and civic entrepreneurs developing and deploying media-heavy, educational applications.
- Experiment with and explore (with local, national, and international partners) emerging practices and trends like:
- the internet of things / connected appliances
- citizen science; crowdsourced data collection
- open government data; serving data sets as library collections
- distributed manufacturing
- Shift the perception of what type of resource the public library can be in the digital information ecosystem.
- Position ourselves internationally as a ‘library of the future’, therefore attracting a talented workforce to Chattanooga.
The Chattanooga Public Library offers access to lightning-fast connectivity, state-of-the-art tools, and media of all formats to anyone who walks in the door. The dusty old library of the past is gone. Contemporary libraries of the future are public spaces that promote cultural production, digital inclusion, web literacy, and civic participation. Come and visit us at our library in Chattanooga, or better yet, win the Gigatown challenge and we’ll see you online!
If you want to find out more about Chattanooga Public Library, check it out here.