Re-imagining Free Library of Philadelphia

Client: Free Library of Philadelphia

In preparation for the new reality at libraries, with diminishing stacks and the need to expand its services and outreach to the community, this two hour long public workshop kicked off a longer collaboration with the Free Public Library in Philadelphia.


The starting premise was ‘What could the new Commons space look like?”

Working with the President and Director of Philadelphia’s Library System Siobhan Reardon, and her staff, and supported by students from the ‘Design for Social Impact’ program that Jonas Milder directed at that time (view work here :, we developed and facilitated highly structured program to explore options for the new Library ‘Commons’, a 6,000 sqft. space just renovated at the Central Library of Philadelphia.

Forty participants from a wide range organizations and communities representative of the Philadelphia community worked through a series of intensive exercises to explore three paramount considerations for the new space: Space; Experience; Services. Outcomes of this workshop were presented to the Library Board and became part of the planning process and further development of the space and programming for the Central Library and throughout the Philadelphia Library System