A new downtown technology library opened Nov. 11. It’s called /usr/lib (the name is an inside joke for UNIX geeks), and the sign on the door—“tech library – co-working lite – meetup venue”—sums up what it’s all about. Organizer Pawel Szymczykowski, a software engineer for Zappos, says it’s a “1.0 release.” But the library already has a lot to recommend it.
Funded by Zappos, the library includes the expected large selection of books on programming; smaller selections of books about electronics, robotics, physics and cryptography; and even a little fiction, such as The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. The books are organized in a custom system designed to facilitate self-service, because there aren’t any librarians. But the taxonomy also hints at the hacker ethic behind the library, since it includes a copy of The Anarchist’s Cookbook in the Do-It-Yourself section.
In its space above The Beat coffeehouse at the corner of Sixth and Fremont streets, /usr/lib is so well hidden you might need someone to show you where it is the fist time you visit. Membership fees are still under discussion, but they’ll probably be $20 per year. Members get library keycards with a radio-frequency identification chip that unlocks the library door any time. The library is specifically designed for “co-workers”—people working away from their offices, or who don’t have offices. Even during construction, Szymczykowski noticed the library starting to develop a small community of co-working regulars.
The /usr/lib conference room is available on a first-come-first-served basis for any appropriate tech-related function. The library is another piece of Zappos.com’s larger downtown tech community strategy, and it could become a welcome hub for digital creatives. For anyone interested in technology and looking for an excuse to get away from the office, it’s well worth checking out.