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Digital Commons

DC Public Library, DC

Contact: Racheal Hawthorne,


The Digital Commons is a creative and collaborative playground serving a vibrant community of all ages. Part digital creation space, part fabrication lab, and part coworking space, the Digital Commons provides hands-on access and education to emerging technologies, tools, and software. We offer a wide range of classes and services to nurture the personal, entrepreneurial, and workforce development needs of the community.  

There is access to 80 PCs/Macs to utilize software like the Adobe Creative Suite and Emerging technologies like 3D Printers and 3D scanners are available to get hands-on experience with the future.  An Espresso Book Machine meets the self-publishing needs of the community. Our coworking initiative, dubbed The Dream Lab, is a collaborative environment where entrepreneurs and non-profits can grow and drive local innovation.  

Our dynamic classes focus on STEAM learning, and are an opportunity for users to express their creativity and learn valuable skills for tomorrow. We strive to provide a comprehensive course offering in basic, intermediate, and advance tech skills through classes such as Intro to 3D ScanningPython Coding3D ModelingAdobe InDesign, and many more. The programs are a transformational opportunity for people to create, build needed skill sets, and explore emerging technologies that are increasingly desired assets, both in today’s workforce and in the future.  


The Digital Commons has become the busiest destination of all 26 locations within DCPL. 50-70 classes are offered monthly in the Commons, averaging ~10 attendees per class, equating to 500-700 trained individuals per month. Nearly all current and planned programs center on STEAM.  Our 3D printing service has a back-log of two weeks. The class structure has evolved from basic and intermediate to more advanced offerings as public demand grows. From users needing online application help to developing 3D design skills, Digital Commons has become a unique workforce development site.  All this has taken place in eleven short months.  

The business community, no matter how big or small a venture, is integral to the Commons’ success. We host a bi-monthly meet up of tech entrepreneurs (DC Tech) who pitch their products and ideas to fellow startups and investors numbering well over 500 in attendance.  Google has worked with teens to develop coding skills, and 80 members call the Dream Lab home.   We already see the business and entrepreneurial community driving innovation and giving back. MapStory, an early Dream Lab partner, is collaborating with the library’s Special Collections to digitize historic maps and manipulate data for public “story telling”. The success of Digital Commons has sparked the library to identify additional space and budget for audio and fabrication production to open in the next 6-9 months: