Studio Rhode

Next Generation Library Challenge


Studio Rhode Overview

In Rhode Island, libraries are already embracing their role as community hubs that empower residents to be active learners and creators--providing learning lounges, computer science training, literacy programs, and makerspaces. 

But much more work needs to be done to truly transform the user experience in Next Generation Libraries.

To support these efforts, the Rhode Island Office of Innovation, in partnership with the Office of Library and Information Services, launched two rounds of a Next Generation Library Challenge in 2017, called Studio Rhode.

Phase 1 winners:

  • Westerly Library & Wilcox Park

  • Woonsocket Public Library 

 Phase II winners:

  • Adams Public Library

  • Greenville Public Library

  • Providence Community Library

  • Warwick Public Library

The first round of Studio Rhode supported two libraries with in-kind support from Apple as well as grant funds to sustain their efforts.

The second round Studio Rhode challenge awarded four libraries up to $10,000 each in unrestricted funds to buy totally new tools or to upgrade old ones, to pilot a new program, or to strengthen an existing one.

This challenge provides municipal, community, and university libraries open to the public in Rhode Island a chance to learn how to use 21st century technology to solve community problems in the library as well as the opportunity to build partnerships and develop a next generation digital community hub at their library.

Studio Rhode aims to not just change the look, feel, and service delivery of a library, but to drive creativity and positively impact a library’s community. In this second challenge, applicants propose how their library will use up to $10,000 to reimagine their role as a digital community hub for multigenerational and inclusive learning in a fashion that best meets the needs of their community in a short 3-4 month pilot from March to June. For example, a library may choose to leverage the Studio Rhode framework to help young adults capture and share stories from older generations, to train the disabled to use assistive technology to find employment, or increase the number of words that a child hears by age four through the gamification of learning. Proposals may focus on accelerating existing areas of expertise, taking initiatives to scale, or building capacity to offer new services--but they will not look to sustain the status quo. This is an opportunity for libraries to pilot an entirely new framework for serving their community.


The following are three essential tenets of the Studio Rhode Next Generation Library framework:

1. Community Concierge:

The Community Concierge imagines a library that is shaped around the needs of all community members, regardless of ability, socioeconomic status, or age. Libraries need to use the experience they hope to provide to each user as the key driver of the design of both the physical and virtual space of the library. We believe this will create an open, inclusive, engaging, and interactive place for collaboration, driven by a clear understanding of user requirements, tools, and learning activities tailored to those needs.

2. Digital Creation Studio:

Studio Rhode envisions the library as a place for members of the community to design, create, and share knowledge with next-generation digital tools. Studio Rhode seeks to transform libraries into places to engage in crucial community building cornerstones in a 21st century way—by creating digital stories, new media, or using digital tools to develop new ideas in service of community or self.

3. New Tools:

Studio Rhode libraries may leverage the grant to buy new technology to support the creation of the Community Concierge and Digital Creation Studio. For example, the first Studio Rhode challenge provided two public libraries with access to Apple hardware and all the content that comes with it--through the App Store, iBooks Store, iTunes U and iTunes as well as the tools to become content creators through Apple’s creativity and productivity apps.

The Studio Rhode Next-Generation Library Challenge was supported through Apple and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.