Somerville Library, just like many libraries around the world, had to close its doors when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. One of their most essential services to the community, free Wi-fi access, also ceased, leaving many people without internet access. As a response, the library collaborated with CultureHouse, a non-profit urban design agency, to transform the underused library courtyard into a pop-up Wifi-workstation. The agency developed a simple, cost-efficient design with locally sourced and simple materials, such as wooden pallets and garden umbrellas, sheltering people from weather conditions. As a result, residents could comfortably and safely use the library’s Wi-fi 24/7, all year round.
Relation to Resilience
The pop-up Wi-fi workstation allows residents to stay connected digitally in times of pandemic lock-downs. The aspiration to maintain connections was also highlighted by library director Cathy Piantigini: “The ability to provide free internet access in a safe and inviting space means a great deal. Maintaining connections is so critical during this time of social distancing, both digitally and in-person”. Being able to access online services also empowers residents to act on their own behalf, manage their lives and exercise agency.