One public library system in Colorado has completely rethought how it does business. The Rangeview Library System in Thornton, Colorado, has branded itself “Anythink“, as in, “I think I’m going to head over to the Anythink in Bennett, play guitar hero for a bit, grab a book of one of the bookstore-like categorized shelves, and record my oral history story with the mixed media artist so she can use it in the public history project.”
In the last few years, the former Rangeview Library System revamped its entire strategic plan, replaced its name with “Anythink Libraries,” converted from Dewey to what they call WordThink, and remodeled spaces to include living rooms and teen spaces. The look and feel of the new spaces is decidedly retail—Anythink refers to community members who visit the library or use its resources as “customers.” Talk about making the library a Third Place.
The 2008–2010 Rangeview Library District Strategic Plan aims for the library to be “…part corner store, part community living room, cultural center, book and media center and friendly learning space.” It also lists building “Beautiful and Inspiring Environments” as one of its goals. These photos and these of the library’s eight locations (one is an Anythink Cafe) make them look inviting, exciting, and bookstore-like.
The website is also designed to look more like a commercial site, and it invites visitors to participate in a fun little word image publishing activity that feels like playing with the magnetic poetry tiles on the fridge. This sort of invitation to engage is what Anythink is trying to be all about. Awarded a 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the library has generated some buzz for good reason.