Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Lessons in sharing, from the public library

Sept. 18, 2014, 2:43 p.m., Posted by Nate Hill


Photo by The 4th Floor at the Chattanooga Public Library on Flickr. 

Knight News Challenge: Libraries offers applicants a chance to share in $2.5 million by focusing on the question “How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?” Below, Nate Hill deputy director of the Chattanooga, Tenn., Public Library, writes about the communities and the social contract embodied in libraries.

This morning, for perhaps the 46th time, I read my toddler son a book called “Mine-o-saur.”  In the story, the Mino-o-saur learns that he needs to share his toys with other dinosaurs to make friends. When he was alone with all of the toys, he was sad, and the community of other dinosaurs moved on and had fun with different toys elsewhere. My son stared intently at the book, and you could see the gears in his little head turning… “I better not act like the Mine-o-saur; I like having friends!

Sharing is an essential part of healthy social interactions, and our culture knows and values this so highly that we begin conditioning children to understand it from a very early age. A community, defined as a unified body of individuals, isn’t much of a community without some kind of sharing system, including access rules, behavioral modes and a resulting social contract. In early cultures, people lived collectively and shared child care and food preparation duties. Now, communities might share playful things, such as toys, as the Mine-o-saur learned, or they may share crucial infrastructure, such as a plumbing system or an electrical grid. They can share space, water, food, knowledge, books or livestock. They might share a network connection, computers or other devices.

Ideas and creativity of three innovators make Charlotte, N.C., a more livable city

Sept. 18, 2014, 11 a.m., Posted by Susan Patterson


Deborah Triplett hangs her own yard art, a "clothesline" tribute to her mother and grandmother, entitled "You Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone.” Photo courtesy Deborah Triplett. 

Charlotte is a wonderful place to live, thanks to many things and many people. I’m putting the spotlight here on three women whose ideas are making our community even better.

First, meet Deborah Triplett. She’s a fine photographer, an advocate for and volunteer with The Light Factory, and most importantly, she’s the creator of Yard Art Day.

Every Labor Day, Deborah invites Charlotte residents to share their creativity in this community-wide art installation. It’s free. There are no judges. There is, however, a map. First, participants plan and create their art and then add the information to the Yard Art Map on Facebook.

It’s fun to participate, but it’s even more fun to take the map and drive around town and see others’ art. This year, one creative team created a “car-digan” – a car covered with their knitting.

What I especially like about Yard Art Day is the organic nature in which it develops. Deborah launched this idea in 2012, which coincided with the Democratic National Convention being held in the city. She wanted our visitors to see creativity outside of Uptown.

Bianca St. Louis, CODE2040: 'I envision libraries as a creative space and entrepreneurial hub'

Sept. 18, 2014, 10:30 a.m., Posted by Knight Foundation

Knight News Challenge: Libraries offers applicants a chance to share in $2.5 million by focusing on the question “How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?”

Above, Bianca St. Louis, program coordinator for the nonprofit CODE 2040, a previous Knight News Challenge winner, discusses the role libraries can play in the digital age, the gaps in news and information they can help fill and how they can be hubs of creation and community support that connect diverse groups.

To submit an entry or provide feedback on other submissions, visit newschallenge.org. You can join us for virtual office hours from 1 to 2 p.m. ET Sept. 23. Participants can access the meeting online (https://bluejeans.com/731675489/browser using ID 731675489), or participate via phone at 1-888-240-2560. Knight News Challenge: Libraries closes at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 30. Winners will be announced in January.