May 24, 2022

“Playbrary: A New Vision of the Neighborhood Library”

From Brookings Institution:

Shhhhhh.” This is perhaps the sound most associated with libraries. Yet, libraries are also portals to the world outside that take us to faraway places and spur new ideas. Libraries offer community gathering spaces where neighbors without internet access can complete job applications and families can gather for story time. But as times have changed, so has the vision, function, and form of the library. Libraries are also becoming community spaces that support children’s development.


Funded by the William Penn Foundation, the project featured incredible designs from DIGSAU and Studio Ludo. Researchers from Playful Learning Landscapes worked with the team to create play spaces in three different branches of the Free Library. Discussions and collaboration with branch librarians, Studio Ludo, and Smith Memorial Playground ensured culturally sensitive and community responsive designs. In those collaborations, the team 1) observed staff reactions to users engaging with a variety of nontraditional materials in the library; 2) helped library patrons of all ages envision and articulate the kind of space they would like to play and learn in; and 3) synthesized feedback and observations into a menu of design features or schemes.

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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.