Work spaces

The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library.  I like to think of this as our own little fort.
The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library. I like to think of this as a clubhouse where librarians and community can connect.

I have been thinking a lot recently about how we arrange our lives.  This may come from the fact that my family and I just bought a new home and we’re trying to see how to best organize our lives in this new home.  This may also come from the fact that we’ve got a lot of space on The 2nd Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library and the freedom to explore new ways to provide services to our community.

When I first arrived at the Chattanooga Public Library, I noticed that a few employees used The 4th Floor as their “office”…I used quotes because it wasn’t an office in the traditional sense.  They were camped out with their laptops and their other work around two large tables.  Everyone worked at their own project and every once in awhile they’d be a group conversation.  What impressed me about this work space was how their work was being done in public and how all of the employees were happy to be at work.  It has been said time and time again that collaborative work space like what I saw on the 4th Floor can lead to happier and more productive employees.  What really made me think about our work spaces was that what has been traditionally defined as office work was being done out in the public.  Public kept coming up for me.  We work in a public library.  We are public employees.  We work in a public space.

It all leads to what you see above: our public work space, or as I like to call it “a clubhouse where librarians and community can connect.”  I really like the idea of working in public and having a place where staff can come together and share ideas not only amongst themselves but with the community as well.  If a group of teens want to come in and hang out around this desk, that’s even better.  We can talk to them, share stories, listen to music, and interact.

In the long term, I’m trying to understand how this public work space can lead to staff not having to be tied to a desk schedule.  Think about the time we spend creating and managing desk schedules.  Think about how terribly lonely time spent at a public desk can be (especially if it is slow). It’s going to be something that will need to be tested through trial and error, but I’m sure we’ll find something that works for both us and our community in the long run.


  1. Hi Justin,
    I love the idea of a shared and public workspace for librarians. I work in a small academic library, and librarians and the reference desk are dislocated by two floors and a big, heavy opaque door. The whole staff could really benefit from being upstairs and together, where we could watch each other in action and learn about new resources. I really hope that more libraries, both public and private, are courageous enough to work in public and work collaboratively like your library does!
    Thanks for the inspiring post,

  2. Does this also apply to the Technical Services area? If so how are the new materials protected prior to processing?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s