The Commons @Public Libraries

Tapping into each person’s interests and ideas to create collaborative learning experiences.

Partner: Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Place: Vancouver, Canada
Themes: Libraries, Curation, DIY, Learning
Designer: Beayue Louie


There is a growing perception of the public library as a separate institute of formal knowledge where we passively consume information products and services on educational or “boring” topics.
How can we encourage individuals to interact more with the public library and each other in order to promote collaborative knowledge creation?


The Commons @Public Libraries is a communal, modifiable space in libraries that all members of the public can interact with or curate on any topic that interests them. It enables individuals to contribute directly to the content of the library, while providing a platform for public discourse.


Individuals can interact with The Commons in four ways, which provides flexibility in both engagement and time commitment.


Explorations in interaction factors:

•size and medium
•materials and prompts
•privacy / social currency


The Commons is accessible to a wide range of libraries and individuals:

•modular system for adaptability, storage, reduced costs and manageability
•three types of frames (local manufactured to mass produced)
•interchangeable panels, shelves and inserts
•designed for disassembly
•complement existing products and amenities


The goal of The Commons is knowledge creation. It is about taking one person or group’s idea and seeing how we, as a community, can collectively expand upon it.