Radio Chipstone: The Rebirth of Madison's Central Library

Jan 20, 2018

Built in 1965, Madison's Central Library couldn't imagine the challenges of the digital world. So, in 2012 it shut down for two years and re-emerged as something that looks like a cross between a museum, student lounge, and a coffee house - designed to anticipate change and the needs of the community.

"When we came back it kind of did feel like a trail by fire in some ways," says Digital Services & Marketing Manager for Central Library, Tana Elias. "We really had to re-imagine everything - from how we move the books through the building to what kinds of programs and services we provide."

"I feel like the new space just has a lot more energy," she continues. "It's okay to be loud, to be artistic, to bring your coffee, talk to other people in this space. And it's ok to ask any question and you'll still get an answer. So as some things change, some things are still the same as well."

Elias notes the new library is a living space that the community was instrumental in creating. In this edition of Radio Chipstone, Elias tells contributor Gianofer Fields that while the space is new, they also wanted to make sure they maintained old relationships:

Material culture contributor Gianofer Fields curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.