People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Tag Archives: New-York

Wandering Librarian: Mohonk Mountain House

On a beautiful fall day, this wandering librarian took a staycation to the Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskill Mountains of New York. img_20161114_143400Founded by Albert Smiley in 1869, Mohonk Mountain House is a National Historic Landmark found on a pristine mountain lake surrounded by thousands of acres of unspoiled natural beauty.

Besides the impressive castle, gorgeous natural beauty and great food, I was most happy with the cozy library. With its small nonfiction and fiction collections, plush chairs, fireplace, tea & cookies, this is probably the most comfortable reading room and small library I’ve ever had the luck to enjoy. img_20161114_154005img_20161114_153947


Designing Streets for People

Ariel view of an intersection

According to the United Nations, for the first time ever, the majority of the world’s population lives in a city. If this is the case, cities must do their part to improve the path of their growing number of pedestrians.

Recently in GOOD, a social network for people working towards collective and social progress,  posted about an interesting project in San Francisco where they were challenged to design streets for people. The photo is a rendering of their idea in which curbs are widened at cross walks to raise the prominence of pedestrians for cars. The extended curb would also double as a location for benches and planters.

Read more about this project in her post Designing Streets for People, Not Just Cars.

On a related note, we recently noticed that the NYC Department of Transportation started WalkNYC, a standard for pedestrian way-finding. If you’re in the NYC area, you have already noticed these signs/maps in a few neighborhoods.


SparkTruck is on its way to NYC!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…’s  

Jumping on the bandwagon, errr truck wagon, SparkTruck delivers education on wheels.  Traveling across the USA with 21st-century shop tools, SparkTruck is on a mission to spread the fun of hands-on learning.

Keep an eye out, NYC – SparkTruck is due in the New York metro area, September 23-30.

Fayetteville Free Library Fab Lab: Guest Post by Greg Belvedere

A recent post and conversations about hackerspaces led to this guest post by Greg Belvedere about the Fayetteville Free Library Fab Lab.


On October 20th I attended Contact, a kind of un-conference for next generation p2p projects organized by writer and media critic Doug Rushkoff. While there I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion about hackerspaces in libraries. Lauren Smedley from the Fayetteville Free Library in upstate New York led the discussion.

I have heard a lot of people talk about rethinking the library as a space, but the hackerspace is the first of these ideas I have actually liked. The Fayetteville Fab Lab will be “a collection of commercially available machines and parts linked by software and processes developed for making things”. The idea behind this, Smedley explained to me, is that libraries are not just about information, they are also about access. She wants to make libraries places where people don’t just consume media, but also have access to tools to help them create things. At the heart of the Fab Lab is a device called the Makerbot, a relatively low cost 3D printer which can produce any object the user can imagine.

I had heard about Makerbots before, but I actually got to see one in action at the conference. It assembles a 3D object from plastic spools. It is undeniably neat, but I don’t know what kind of widespread practical uses patrons in a public library would find for it. In some ways it seems kind of gimmicky. I have heard it might be convenient to reproduce a broken part for a household appliance. Instead of ordering and waiting for an overpriced replacement part that might not even be available, or buying a new appliance, a patron could print out a new part that day. I think it has a lot of potential and uses will probably arise that nobody has thought of, but right now it might take people a while to catch up to this idea.

I was curious how librarians at FFL would assign usage of the equipment in the Fab Lab. When I asked Lauren this she did not really have the logistics worked out. I guess this can work in a quiet rural library, but I think if we tried something like this in Brooklyn we would need a well thought out system for assigning how long someone could use the Makerbot. Despite my reservations I was glad to see such a strong showing from a librarian. She ended up winning one of three $10,000 prizes given out at the conference for the best projects.

Greg Belvedere is the founder of Our Bookshelf, the DRM-Free ebook lending social network. He is also an adult librarian who works for Brookyn Public Library.