May 19, 2022

Research Article: “Libraries as Co-Working Spaces: Understanding User Motivations and Perceived Barriers to Social Learning”

The following article appears in Library Hi-Tech (Vol. 31 No 2).

We’re sharing the full text of the “accepted for publication” version of the article.


Libraries as Co-Working Spaces: Understanding User Motivations and Perceived Barriers to Social Learning


Mark Bilandzic & Marcus Foth (2013) 


Queensland University of Technology Prints


This paper aims to inform design strategies for smart space technology to enhance libraries as environments for co-working and informal social learning. The focus is on understanding user motivations, behaviour, and activities in the library when there is no programmed agenda. The study analyses gathered data over five months of ethnographic research at ‘The Edge’ – a bookless library space at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, that is explicitly dedicated to co-working, social learning, peer collaboration, and creativity around digital culture and technology. The results present five personas that embody people’s main usage patterns as well as motivations, attitudes, and perceived barriers to social learning. It appears that most users work individually or within pre-organised groups, but usually do not make new connections with co-present, unacquainted users. Based on the personas, four hybrid design dimensions are suggested to improve the library as a social interface for shared learning encounters across physical and digital spaces. The findings in this paper offer actionable knowledge for managers, decision makers, and designers of technology-enhanced library spaces and similar collaboration and co-working spaces.

Direct to Full Text Article (23 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.