Weblog for the UW-Madison SLIS summer GIS and information agencies course run by Greg Downey. Members may post something new.
posted by Greg Downey @ 4:25 PM
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How about start listing the attributes that the library needs to have: it needs to be child-friendly, and have a comfortable environment. It needs to have aesthetically-pleasing architecture, and it needs to accommodate more computer space for Internet access. What services could the library provide that will draw investors? Who would the investors be? These seem to be the points that I took from her visit. Essentially, the task is to advocate for the library's roles in the community and to make it apparent by showing those roles visually.
Given the constraints of time, if we decide to work on a project to help Barbara, the key would be what data is currently available and how we could manipulate the data to provide something meaningful to her. I personally like the idea that our work could make a difference, albeit small, and the project won't "die" at the end of the class.
Since this new main branch would (ideally) be seen as a new cultural center, piggy-backing off of the Overture Center et al, it would be interesting to do a comparative study: take circulation data/gate counts from 1. pre-Overture, 2. Phase 1 building of Overture, 3. opening of Overture, and 4. current (Phase 2 building). See if data indicates an increase/decrease/no change in library use as the Overture Center has become more prominent. (All ideally taken from the same day/month for consistency.) Likewise, the landscape of Madison has been changing in conjunction with "downtown revitalization efforts" (e.g. influx of high-end condos on the lake for $$$$$) - how do changing socioeconomic factors figure in to library usage (especially since residents in many of these new condos in the central branch area are kid-free).
Ben's list is exactly what I took from the talk too. One idea I had was to map out the youth facilities that already exist in the downtown area as a way to demonstrate the need/non-need for better youth programs. Finding data for this may be impossible, and may be too hard for a 2.5 week project. Also interesting to consider regarding the youth dimension is the removal of the Madison youth center by the overture center property. This may make a very strong case for reinstating more youth related outlets downtown.
In conjunction with Elizabeth's suggestions, it would be interesting to actually see some maps proving that the central library is a vital part of the downtown. Do more people from all over the city/county use the central branch when there are events downtown such as the summer Farmer's market, for example, or popular museum days. One could compare info about library use in conjunction with events that have been going on for awhile with the Overture Center ideas that Elizabeth proposed. That would really help in illustrating how (if) the overture center is altering library use.
I think that before gathering and manipulating data, we need to decide the theme of redevelopment of the Madison Central library. It might need more research and public opinion. However, I think that thematizing the library is the first step.
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