A Library Lab' or LibLab is a hackspace for knowledge proposed design and concept, and demonstration project at the DC Public Library. These labs will become community centers for annotation, classification, creation, curation, digitization; education and publication, reading and writing and media production. The LibLab demonstration project is part of the Digital Public Library of America Beta Sprint initiative.
LibLab has a modular design, with up to a dozen research and collaboration modules. Each module provides the tools and space needed to work on collaborative knowledge production, research, or learning and teaching. They can support digital public libraries, existing physical workshops, and communities without such spaces at all. Different configurations can be installed in unused storefronts, sheltered outdoor areas, kiosks, and existing public buildings.
The LibLab concept is being prototyped at the DC Public Library's Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library, in downtown Washington, D.C., from September to the end of December 2011.
We will define a Library Lab as a standalone hackspace for people to work collaboratively on knowledge - creating, organizing, and sharing it. This will include digitization, annotation, publishing, and use of existing tools for library research and collection-making, particularly for personal and neighborhood projects.
A Lab will be a space for community members, educators, and librarians to learn about new tools, to develop personalized workspaces, and to run classes and workshops for others. It will include physical tools such as cameras and scanners and mixers and computers, and software tools for design, automation, mixing, and working with datasets.
This idea is based loosely on the model of FabLabs, which provide similar hackspace in 100+ labs around the world for engineering/hacking physical objects.
We will develop a prototype lab in Washington DC, co-located at the DC Public Library's Martin Luther King Jr. Library. The lab will run through the end of December 2011. Through course of running the lab, we will test various ideas and concepts, and seek feedback from public users and librarians.
The Boston Wikipedians and Wiki Society of DC are working on this project over the summer of 2011.
Related programs and efforts 
Potential partners 
These groups may have space or ways to support a Lab.
Lab design 
This is a set of pods for use with a Library Lab. Each should be expanded to include implementation guidelines for making it effective, and design guidelines for getting the necessary materials. Each should list a minimal, normal, and great version of any hardware/furniture, as well as other major variations in use in different labs.
A separate section will describe layouts of a minimal, normal, and great lab, demonstrating possible combinations of pods into particular labs.
Please update with images and links to blueprints and specs for possible gear.
Hanging out (space) 
Lounge furniture, comfortable space
Workshops (space) 
Reconfigurable Projection / connectors / sound Sound baffling?
Uses: run intro workshops, show multimedia, large-group collaboration
writing/whiteboard (space) 
Easels, whiteboards, glass walls & dryerase crayons
Req's open space to pace and work in a group
Activity centers 
Simple flatbedS. Camera.
Audio recording (booth) 
Mics & mixers, playback, headsets
Video recording (booth) 
Playback: projection? translucent wall?
Book binding 
Speedy copiers/printers. (only B/W high-speed, to avoid overuse?)
Plotter (for printing on var. media)
Espresso machine (option)
Software activities 
(many interchangeable stations)
multimedia work 
---> connected to recording booths
curation, collection management, publication 
---> next step after digitization and uploading
naming, classification, organization 
---> connected to scan and digitzation centers
script and database development 
Set up as a software development testbed.
backups and file storage 
A complement to existing library systems - for local backup and storage of any materials generated in the Lab. A station for making and managing backups, and a service to the rest of the lab.
digital design 
see HacDC digital design classes
Welcoming, access 
Oversight of small common needs: usb keys?
Gear checkout 
Hardware: laptop/tablet/reader/recorder, gps/camera checkout
Coordinate with existing library carts
Steelcase makes some good furniture for multiple people to collaborate on single screens.
The demo space is surrounded by glass walls that could be used to write on
Use cases for a lab 
please add to this list!
Workshops and activities 
- OpenStreetMap mapping parties & workshops
- Wikipedia newbies workshops
- Wikipedia editathons
- MediaWiki tech topics
- Using social tools in the library. (e.g. )
- Hackathons - BookShare, DevHouseDC, maps/geo hackathon, GLAM-tech hackathon (?) or others
- Wiki Mondays (?)
- Please add ideas
July update 
A quick update on the project:
I. Location 
We have a confirmed lab venues in the main branch of the DC Public Library. It is a lovely glass-walled space in the main-floor reading area, very visible and spacious. A perfect place to lay out many different modules and try them out.
Other confirmed lab venues wanted - please continue to send in ideas.
II. Design 
Chris Noll of Noll and Tam Architects is taking a lead on the design work.
Ideas for blueprints, modular furniture, whiteboards; space for discussion and hacking, for machines, for solo work. Specific use cases and sketched ideas are welcome. If you know interested architects or designers, please invite them to get involved.
III. Timeline 
0. Identify suitable [short-term] physical spaces for a lab.
1. Design and planning meeting with some designers in DC. Draw on YOUmedia and FabLab models. Discuss with colleagues @ the Association of Science-Technology Centers, IMLS, and FabLab DC.
Goal: a draft list of hardware, space, network, and other requirements, plus possible configurations of the space.
2. Define a set of projects / workshops for a potential lab. Start with existing projects that could use such a space, find out what they need.
Goal: 100 projects covering a spectrum of research, creation, and culture-sharing activities, with examples of similar projects.
3. Submit a grant proposal by August 15 to an IMLS/Macarthur "library lab for youth" grant.
4. Finalize a statement of interest for future implementers to sign, indicating they have capacity to maintain a lab.
Goal: publish a list of interested implementers, invite them to join an appropriate mailing list [which one?]
5. Iterate on the design process, draft DPLA report/submission.
Goal: A modular lab, with cost estimates for different components, and basic guidelines for maintaining each one / developing a critical mass of people using it
6. A second lab underway in another city [depending on who has space and time]
7. Sep 15 - DPLA report submitted.
8. Oct 15 - DPLA exhibit in DC. [possible field trip to bring the group to visit the lab]
IV. Volunteers needed 
Needed: tech / teacher / organizer volunteers!
Libraries and other venues often have space but lack staff to man a potential lab. We have one volunteer to organize the space so far (thank you!), and could use 5-6 more who are free at least part of each week.
We need volunteers to oversee the lab during open hours (at least in the afternoon every day), run introductory sessions for newcomers, and facilitate use of the space by the various projects that may pass through. For example: in DCPL, they have a project working with teens to make and publish news pieces and radio, a neighborhood program to digitize community histories. The people currently running those projects will need introduction into the lab and some initial guidance in using it. Both of those projects might want to learn how to generate and publish wiki materials. There are also community archiving projects run by the Building Museum who might be a good fit.
If you enjoy showing people how things work, people who become interested will need to be shown how to use all of the tools, and how to run their own workshops showing others how to use their favorites. Ex: there are dozens of summer volunteers around the public libraries in the summer, some might choose to work in the lab. A good guide for running such tutorials could become standard for labs across the country.
V. Design/usage research needed 
We need design and use-case research to help us develop reusable modular designs.
There are some examples from FabLabs, YOUmedia labs, CCTV centers, hand-on museums, "creation stations", high-throughput scan centers. How could a combination of these work well together? We can learn from people who have done this, or organizations dedicated to this. [see the Association of Science-Technology Centers]
Further reading 
Here is some material about similar (loosely defined) library spaces:
- Library Outposts, Brooklyn NY
- A more recent article about the same thing
- The Mighty Twig
- MAKE Magazine article
- Library Lab at OSU, "Where one can experiment with new information technologies and services. "
- The Harvard Library Lab (Library information technology / R&D)
- Project mailing list: http://groups.google.com/group/liblabs