Wednesday, April 09, 2014

#CILDC : Hacking Library Spaces: Lessons From Tactical Urbanism - Mike Lydon

Description: With the changes in publishing, communities and campuses, as well as society in general, libraries are challenged with their spaces more than ever. How can libraries act in a timely manner and gather support for change in their communities? Hear from the author of Tactical Urbanism and see how many communities are “just doing it,” rendering possibilities in real time with little in the way of resources. Fantastic examples stretch your imagination and provide lots of ideas to take home to your library!

Session Notes

Mike Lydon, @mikelydon @streetplans

They do a lot of bike and pedestrian planning, design, education and training, advocacy.  They advocate for more livable places.  Their publications are online.  For example "Mercado", lessons for South American markets.

Public participation in urban planning has traditionally been very limited.  However, people don't understand ideas in that form.  It is a difficult process to access.

Miami - Open Streets - temporarily repurpose a street for other activities.  Did in to Miami for bikers and walkers.  Thousands of people were impacted by it and got a different feel of the city.  Around the same time, NYC was hacking its own streets.  NYC took space away from cars and gave it back to people.

Download from their web site: "Tactical Urbanism" (contains 12 case studies) and "Tactical Urbanism 2". Volume 3 focuses on Central and South America.

Tactical urbanism is intended to improve the lives of everyone.  It is the convergence of many ideas.  DIY, guerrilla, pop-up, open source.....

...using short-term, low-cost and scalable interventions intended to catalyze long-term change,  it is about neighborhoods.

Range of people that get involved.  Actions can unsanctioned and sanctioned.

Why? the great recessions, shifting demographics, the internet as a tool for building the civic economy.

"The great inversion" (book) is about people moving back to the city from the suburbs.

How we plan cities is often based on laws and ideas from the 1940s. The tension between what we want and what w're allowed to have.

The riverside booksellers in Paris (Seine) started in the 1500s and were originally illegal.  In 1992 they were declared UNESCO World Heritage site.

These have been guerrilla activities in different eras.

Strategy without tactics will fail, so...for example...

NYC Broadway pedestrian plaza:
Step 1 - disrupt the status quo
Step 2 - iterate
Step 3 - measure and learn
Step 4 - integrate findings, move toward permanence

Build. Measure. Learn.  (From lean startups) works with making changes to cities.

"...about disturbing the order of things in the interest of change." - N. Hamdi

Three common applications
1. Citizens - unsanctioned citizen action, e.g., DIY crosswalks.  Most of our open space are streets.  Walk [your city] - signage that helps people understand how walkable a neighborhood is (Raleigh, NC).
2. Municipalities/organizations - for example, pop-up Rockwell done by students in Cleveland.  Sometimes you take plans off the shelf and trying the idea.  A rendering in real time.
3. Municipality/developer - phase 0 implementation.  Get the idea in the ground quickly to see how it will be used.  BTW once you give people a place to hangout an linger, retail sales go up.   The temporary allows you to build political will and support.

1. Working from the outside in - Hamilton, Ontario.  Tactical urbanism workshop. Part of "Doors open Hamilton".
2. Enhancing public involvement - Somerville, MA. Davis Square - too much surface parking.  Created a three day pop up plaza to test an idea.  Living plaza. Bring planning ideas to the people.  Create incremental changes.
3. Phase 0 implementation - Penrith, Australia. Implemented a people space in year one to test the idea.  Sketch to scale in/on the space.  Involves people in a more physical, tangible way.

What does this have to do with libraries?  This notion of what libraries are. Images of libraries on Google demonstrate that people don't see all that libraries can be. Lots of images of books. We're more than books.  Our photos need to show that.

Little free libraries are a way that books get out and to people where they are.  Movement of how people share information.

Also Dead Drops!  (And library boxes)

Cities are the original internet - Paul Goldberger, 2001

"If the city is the original internet, then the library is its server."

Finally...five steps...
Embed tactical urbanism into information deliver processes
Pilot test
Focus on place making, improve the interface between the library and the city
Use existing initiatives and find multipliers
Scale down to scale up

Addendum, 4/17/2014:  Paul Signorelli did an excellent blog post on this topic, which can be read at

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