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Happy New Year. Happy First Year.

the 4th Floor logo altered to celebrate the new year 2014

When your library is located in a city that  has been identified as perhaps one of the world's "next Silicon Valleys" it's pretty hard not be psyched about the coming year.

For starters, in a few months we'll have a fulltime Open Data Specialist on staff as part of our growing digital projects team.  This new position will ignite our work with the Knight Foundation and Code for America as part of the Open Chattanooga movement that is gaining momentum here. ​ A little later in the year, the 2014 class of GIGTANKers will be all focused on gigabit-powered additive manufacturing (3d printing) and projects for the city's smart grid. You can bet we will cook up some fun ways to partner with this uniquely Chattanooga accelerator series. 

With plenty to look forward to, it is exciting to remember all that has happened on the 4th Floor in this year, considering we have only been open to the public for 9 months. We went from being a storage space on life support to moving directly into the center of an emerging ecosystem for tech education and entrepreneurship.  We're also clearly democratizing access to this ecosystem while fostering new learning and creative communities within a safe inspiring space. Being able to be open 5 days a week beginning in January is a huge step forward to expanding that access. More means more. 

Like a start-up, in many ways the 4th Floor was accelerated in 2013 by strategic assistance from our partners at CO.LAB and AIGA Chattanooga. These new partners helps us create milestone events like Maker Day and the Creative Citizenship series. Like many start-ups, we too have spent our first year in a constant state of trying new things. We do this by listening,  responding,  adapting and evolving. We try programs and services on the 4th floor that are then moved out to other parts of the library. This year we were able to launch free public access to 3D printing and expand this amazing technology to our youth floor downtown; high-resolution digital scanning launched on the 4th Floor this year and now has a permanent home in the Local History dept's new tech alcove.

This has also been an amazing year where the 4th Floor story continues to be told literally all over the globe. And not just through the viral tendencies of social media. At high impact engagements across the world, our leadership team of Nate Hill, Meg Backus and Corinne Hill have made presentations and lead workshops on library innovation and transformation in Scotland, Canada, Denmark to name a few. They've been invited by the International Federation of Library Associations, the Gates Foundation and the FCC to sit on boards and speak on some of the most discussed topics in our industry. 

This has been a year where we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of professional artists and creators coming in and using our high tech tools for their projects.  With the world's fastest wireless, we've helped artists push the boundaries of their work, such as Tim Hinck's Lucid Streaming, created on the 4th Floor in collaboration with Engage 3D for GIGTANK's Demo Day. 

Highlights from this year definitely include hosting a visit from Make Magazine's Travis Good, a public discussion with IDEO's Michael Hendrix, and a special keynote evening featuring Obama For America's Daniel Ryan and Josh Higgins.  It was also great to host the art installation Thenwedieatron,​ our first Pecha Kucha Night, and Chattanooga's participation in the National Day of Civic Hacking. Having Will This Float? take place here for a second year was amazing. 

We are of course a work in progress. New team members have joined the staff as well as new high tech tools/toys in the space. Trying to intentional​ly inhabit a loud 12,200 sf cavern is a definite work in progress but we're proud of our mess and work openly, full steam ahead.  The response to this model has been so supportive. Help us figure this out. 

We believe in deep beta and it is through your use and support that we are able to become anything. It is because of a dedicated and agile team that includes strong community partnerships. Thanks for believing in the 4th Floor and your gigabit library.