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Opportunity Space

Dayton Metro Library, OH

Innovation Summary

Dayton Metro Library is rebuilding the Main Library, constructing 11 new branches, and expanding or renovating 5 branches as part of a system-wide facilities upgrade. We are adding significantly more meeting rooms and collaboration areas, including Opportunity Spaces for unique community partnerships and innovative library programming.

Problem Statement

As we've visited and researched other libraries undergoing construction projects, it seems that you just cannot build too many meeting rooms. In addition, there is the growing maker movement shaping libraries, and the important role libraries play in civic engagement. Therefore, in the rebuilt Main Library and a majority of the 16 new or renovated branches, we are including flexible space for innovative services, community partnerships, and future needs with the working title of Opportunity Space. The purpose iis to provide flexible venues for strategic collaborations and innovative library programming that enrich our community.


Current library best practices shaped our thinking on the need for unique space in our new libraries. At the beginning of the design process, we had identified the need for two new spaces:

  1. Partner Space to share with nonprofit organizations and other community partners for long term programming and civic incubation; and
  2. Evolution Space for new trends in libraries and future library innovation.

We held a retreat with 18 staff selected for their expertise and community contacts to further define these concepts. That discussion led to the conclusion that we were forcing too much of a distinction between when a community program might be an innovative library program and vice versa, so we decide to collapse them under the name of Opportunity Space. Some of these spaces will be “messy” with drains in cement floors, while others will be a more traditional meeting room – depending on the library’s need and available space. All, however, will be flexible to allow for a variety of programming – from gallery space to hacker space, from cooking demonstrations to health screenings, and more. We have begun to identify potential partners and are holding early discussions about the “possibilities” in these spaces. We want to book the spaces for about a year out when they first open, so we are working now to establish guidelines, conduct some research about patron and partner interests, and develop an RFP to seek partners for our first spaces which will be available in the summer and fall of 2015.


Since we are just beginning the construction of our new buildings and these spaces, we don’t know for certain how each will be used.

We do know that they are not for business as usual, but rather to achieve the following visions:

  • Allow for exploration
  • Be experiential
  • Better the community
  • Contribute to success
  • Create passion and excitement
  • Empower collaborations
  • Enable outreach to new audiences
  • Encourage boundless innovation
  • Enhance learning
  • Evolve
  • Include new methods
  • Incubate concepts
  • Inspire new ideas
  • Foster growth and expansion
  • Make a positive impact
  • Meet the changing needs of the community
  • Provide access
  • Serve inventors
  • Share experiences
  • Spark creativity