libraries:  This is a great article in general,  and Charlotte’s children’s library gets a shout out!

Libraries are perhaps our most enduring public institutions–priceless repositories of history, language, and culture. The dawn of the “information superhighway” threatened to make them less relevant, even obsolete. Yet now, these institutions are as prominent as ever, with a wave of innovation as the next generation of libraries extend their mission well beyond the storage of knowledge.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Bringing Stories to Life

In downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, the ImaginOn children’s library and theater illustrates the critical role that civic partnerships can play in expanding the impact of a community institution. The ImaginOn emerged from the cooperative efforts of the Children’s Theater of Charlotte and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Each organization has a presence in the building, where they collaboratively produce a tightly integrated mix of programs and events. By sharing a building and a mission — “bringing stories to life” — the library and the theater complement each other perfectly, creating a critical mass of activity.

“Some people come to the library and find the theater,” says Beth Murray, a librarian at the ImaginOn, “Some people come to the theater and find the library.”

Kids take over the streets to express their thoughts in chalk during Wordplay Saturday in downtown Charlotte.

These overlapping uses set the stage for events you might not necessarily associate with libraries. In true front porch fashion, the ImaginOn produces events that spill into the downtown area. “Wordplay Saturday,” for instance, is a yearly event that fills the streets with people. With performances inside the library and activities outside, the festival transforms Charlotte into a giant party for kids. The event is one way the ImaginOn–together with the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Levine Museum of the New South, and several other neighboring institutions–has been instrumental to the emergence of a lively and walkable cultural center in downtown Charlotte.

Murray is quick to credit the people she serves as the inspiration behind the library’s success as a destination: “The public teaches us,” she explains, “The public helps us rise to the occasion.”

via Libraries That Matter « Project for Public Spaces – Placemaking for Communities.