Flora Massah

The Future of Public Libraries

Research & strategic direction for increasing patron engagement

Chinatown Branch Library, Chicago


Lead Researcher

Project Manager


6 weeks

3-person team


Contextual Understanding

Research & Discovery

Analysis & Synthesis

Narrative Development


Importance of synthesizing

together as a team, to ensure alignment and a cohesive


Context: Chicago Public Library (CPL) aims to be a trusted resource for all Chicagoans, providing equal access to knowledge and information while strengthening communities and broadening the perception of what a library can be. CPL is well-known for the resources and services it provides, however their aim of strengthening communities is still in emergence. We hypothesized that library events are an under-utilized opportunity area to foster stronger connections within communities.

Approach: I designed and implemented a qualitative research study that explored the current landscape and culture of events at the Chinatown Branch library, and identified ways to improve events to better serve the needs of the community.

Methods: On-site SME interviews with library staff; event observations & intercepts; interviews using projectives with patrons.

Key Findings: Existing communication channels between the library & patrons are insufficient. Analysis of the data revealed a one-sided relationship, where patrons receive information and services from the library, but are not an active agent of the library.

Outcome: Identified three strategic recommendations based on the research for how library events can play a key role in facilitating social connections and strengthening communities.