Showing all posts tagged: community

Libraries, co-working spaces lending out sewing machines, iPads, and more

1 September 2023

Australian libraries are no longer quiet places to study or borrow books, writes Bec Zhuang for The Guardian. Today they are community hubs offering working spaces, meeting rooms, film screenings, art shows, and study courses, among other things. And in some places, libraries loan out more than books. Musical instruments, gaming consoles, sewing machines, bike repair tool kits, and, in the case of Waverley library, in Sydney’s east, iPads, are now potentially on offer:

In fact, libraries are transforming into “community hubs” to work, play or access outreach services — at no cost to visitors. The Australian Library and Information Association says forthcoming data from Public Libraries Victoria’s annual survey suggests that, with Covid restrictions now over, participation in free library programs increased by 95% this year.

Up until the pandemic I used to work semi-regularly at a nearby library. Looking around, I’d frequently see the same people each time, and it was apparent many were operating small businesses, or working there. Of these regulars, one often conducted meetings with clients in the library’s foyer, as there were, at the time, no dedicated meeting rooms.


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WikiHouse a possible solution to affordable housing shortages?

25 June 2023

Housing shortages, along with rising interest rates and mortgage repayments, are presently driving up rents and homelessness. To alleviate the problem, the supply of affordable accommodation needs to be increased. But planning and constructing safe, well-built dwellings, takes time.

The WikiHouse project, based in Britain, are designers of sustainable, open-source, modular housing, and may be part of the solution. Long story short, component blocks of durable plywood can be made, which bolt together, in a similar fashion to self-assembly furniture, to create a house.

Perhaps this is something worth looking at?


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Converting empty offices to housing to reduce homelessness?

7 May 2023

When people started working from home during the COVID pandemic, large numbers of office buildings fell vacant, and many remain that way. So why not convert these once commercial spaces into residential accommodation, and put a roof over the head of homeless people?

At first glance the idea makes sense:

Proponents argue that increasing housing in urban centres through office-to-residential conversions also supports the 15-minute city model, where many of your daily needs are just a short walk or bike ride from home. The model promotes community-building and healthy living, boosts local economies and reduces transport emissions, helping ensure there is cleaner air and a more sustainable planet.

Problems abound though. Repurposing office blocks into housing comes at cost, and some buildings are not always suitable for conversion into residential accommodation. It’s an unfortunate dilemma. On one hand, buildings sit empty, while on the other, there are people without a place to call home.


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Could libraries be a place to offer affordable housing?

21 April 2023

Libraries are more than somewhere to go to merely read, or borrow, a book. They’re often places were people study, work, and, to a degree, socialise. In short, libraries are community hubs.

But the idea that libraries could be expanded upon — subject to certain caveats — to offer affordable housing, is compelling. It is however a proposal the Boston Public Library has been considering, says library president David Leonard:

These three libraries will serve as a model to expand alternative affordable housing options. But Leonard said adding affordable housing may not be right for every neighborhood. Programming studies of the Field’s Corner branch revealed the space was too tight to deliver affordable construction; in Egleston Square, the community valued the existing greenspace over an expanded library/housing footprint.

On paper it’s an intriguing idea. People who need affordable housing would have somewhere to live, and potentially a community to tap into, downstairs in the library itself.


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