Libraries As A Cultural Destination
As a mom of two girls and a serial entrepreneur I read a lot of articles and books on everything from homeschooling your kids to how to grow your business. So much has changed with the way human beings read, consume information and entertain. In today’s world, if we need to research something we Google, to read books we order them on Amazon or Kindle for instant access, so when I joined a festival team using a library as its location, I was shocked.
This project got me thinking about the last time I actually visited a library, it had to be almost 7 years ago. I began to ask friends and family about their last library experience as well as surveying my followers on Instagram. Everyone pretty much had the same response… “umm, idk,” “not for years,” or “not since I was a kid!” One person even sent me a personal voice note on Instagram laughing, “A library what’s that?!” Out of 60 responses, only one person’s answer was different than the rest… “Hey, I saw your survey on Insta...I just went to the library last week for a breakdance workshop.”
I thought to myself, “Wait! Ahhh What?! A breakdance workshop… at the library.” Libraries are supposed to be quiet, so I asked them to explain how it was possible to attend a breakdance workshop in a library, since hip hop isn’t the quietest music. This follower responded, “Well my library has cool things like this happening all the time, you should check it out.” So, that’s what I did.
I decided to reach out to Arcola Lakes Library, the library that allows hip-hop and breakdancing, and ended up having a very interesting chat with head librarian, Paul Lefrak. Paul explained that it’s not only libraries that are being re-imagined, it’s also the cities they’re located in. All across Miami-Dade County libraries are being re-imagined as cultural destinations.
Paul’s library is centered in an area in need of some TLC, so much so that the county approved a CRA, community redevelopment association. The job of the CRA is to ensure that growth and innovation is possible for places like Arcola Lakes Library and new businesses looking for a home. The NW 7th Avenue CRA, self-proclaimed as Uptown Avenue 7, is redeveloping its community as the next cultural destination, a place where residents can work, shop and play.
Uptown Ave 7 is culturally engaging its community with events like its annual festival and grant opportunities that help current businesses renovate and expand, as well as new businesses move into the corridor. Uptown Avenue 7 CRA seems to be putting its dollars where it counts, investing CRA dollars to reconstruct Arcola Lakes Library, which is one of the most stunning structures in the corridor. It’s perfectly positioned across from another beautiful Uptown Avenue 7 structure, the Northside Police Station.
I also learned that Arcola Lakes Library is just the beginning and will be the model for reimagining what is beyond possible for traditional pillars of the community, to include technology, arts, commerce and culture. I can’t wait to spread the news... LIBRARIES AREN’T DEAD! See for yourself what Uptown Avenue 7 and the Miami Dade County Public Library System is creating at the intersection of culture and commerce on Saturday, November 9th at the 3rd Annual Uptown Avenue 7 Arts & Culture Festival. It’s sure to be a dynamic experience me and my daughters can enjoy!