David Walker from Austin’s co-working innovators at Conjuctured provided an interesting response in the comments to my post about the new main APL library. I wanted to highlight his ideas as I think they are insightful about the direction of professional workplaces in Austin. Here are David’s responses to a set of questions I posed him:
1. What’s the niche that APL should fill in terms of working and collaborative spaces that the market isn’t going to.
Access to resources. Big open spaces for LARGE meetings. Besides the space itself access to library resources would be very beneficial. Hoovers, Lexis Nexis, etc.
2. Should APL charge or is it free?
Must be free. It is a library after all. Donation based for events would be a good way to monetize. Maybe could charge for access to meeting rooms and conference rooms, though.
3. Should it be first-come-first serve or should reservations be possible?
Reservations for meeting rooms and conference rooms and event meeting space. But for the coworking itself, just first come first serve.
4. What pointers would you give APL and the Council about making public facilities useful for entrepreneurs, solo consultants, and people who need spaces to get things done but don’t work for businesses/orgs with lots of resources?
I would go the Barnes and Noble route. Making a library just like a book store would be amazing. There’s a natural synergy that happens in a book store because of access to resources + ability to talk openly without worrying about being quiet like in a standard library. Conjunctured gets requests all the time for busineses in town that want to host offsite team working days for 10-12 people. We can’t handle that many people in one room, so having rooms like that would be beneficial. The key is having a space that is not just a space, but a community. You would need to have a designated Community Manager, that helps people get to know each other, find opportunities, etc. People are not attracted to open spaces—they’re attracted to being a part of something. (At least the solo workers). Would be happy to talk to you or anyone in the city more in length about this in person. Kudos to you for getting the conversation going!