Advancing and Scaling the Alexandria Co-Working Network

Project: Research project

Project Details


Abstract The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group (EIG) from Arizona State University (ASU) proposes a 12-month project to advance the Alexandria Co-Working Network (ALEX) to the next level and to scale the network across the state of Arizona as well as potentially to other states who have expressed interest. Launched in May of 2013, ALEX is designed as a hub and spoke between the activities of the ASU pracademic unit of EIG and the spokes within the public library system. The objective is to help designated libraries in Arizona and beyond offer innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration spaces (ICE) through both a physical and a virtual network that supports the creation of new innovations and aids economic development through the creation of new startup companies. Libraries in the network create open collaboration spaces in their facilities, where innovators and entrepreneurs can find collaborators and mentors. In this environment they also get access to fully equipped working spaces, library fact-finding services, and physical and digital library resources. Through ALEX, ASU offers entrepreneurial education, training to library staff, access to a distributed mentor pool and most importantly a platform, in which libraries can use to serve the entrepreneurial community. Since the launch of the network, ASU has jointly opened three of these nodes (Scottsdale, Mesa and Phoenix) and initial nodes have reported success in serving the community, making impact upon the local economy, and attracting new constituents to libraries. Libraries today are facing a number of pressing issues from reduced visitors to meeting technology needs from constituents. Many librarians are looking to transform these public spaces to better serve the community interests by making similar shifts in culture, technology, and thought. The Alexandria Network is a solution to many of these problems, bringing innovation and collaboration back to the libraries. The network is named after the worlds first great library in Alexandria, Egypt, which was established in the third century B.C. The library at Alexandria, and the other libraries in antiquity that followed it, were not just about books; in essence, they were societys first co-working spaces and knowledge hubs. Libraries are highly trusted institutions that are embedded in communitiessafe places for community members to connect with others, find information and resources, and pursue their entrepreneurial ideas. ALEX is designed to help the modern library offer similar collaboration spaces with an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. Under this proposed project, ASU will expand ALEX further at two libraries, Scottsdale Public Library and Phoenix Public Library, by offering more technical resources and staffing to support entrepreneurs. Furthermore, ASU will broaden ALEX to other parts of Arizona as well as the US to serve larger and underserved communities. Through ASUs conversations with many libraries across the country, there is clear demand to offer ALEX to other regions. In order to scale the network, ASU needs to further develop the ALEX infrastructure through its online portal. During the project duration, ASU will advance the portal to better serve the library community and encourage more collaboration. Finally, ASU will launch ALEX at 4 new libraries and provide small seed grants to support activities. The long-term objective of ALEX is to support the hundreds of entrepreneurs, inventors, problem-solvers and small-business owners across Arizona who need help in advancing their ideas but dont currently have access to the necessary tools.
Effective start/end date11/1/143/31/17


  • Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS): $249,263.00


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