I recently stepped into the local library for the first time in several years. It had been so long that I needed a new library card, because mine had been purged out of the system. Although it’s embarrassing to admit it had been so long, it felt good to be surrounded again by so much potential knowledge.
As I listened to the librarian explain the current services and materials, I looked around.
While there weren’t as many books as I was used to seeing in a library, other things took their place. Computers, comfy seating, art, cozy reading nooks, and spaces for crafts and projects all beckoned me to spend more time there.
I had full cell service and WiFi in the building, not that I was the least bit interested in staring at my phone. I wanted to try out every chair and table and nook to find the best spot.
Most notably, people of all ages were everywhere. A small group meeting was happening in a side room. Two college-age students were poring over a computer. Some mothers with their young children were reading in the kids’ area. Individuals were at computers or reading in the designated “quiet area”. Weren’t entire libraries always quiet areas?
Many libraries have changed to meet the needs of our fast-moving world, with technology driving many of the changes.
According to the American Library Association:
- 100% of public libraries offer access to the internet.
- Americans go to school, public, and academic libraries more than three times as frequently as they go to the movies.
- Research shows the highest achieving students attend schools with well-staffed and well-funded school libraries.
- More than 36% of libraries offer work space for mobile workers.
- 40% of school district administrators note the implementation of blended learning environments as having the greatest impact on transforming teaching and learning.
(American Library Association. The State of America’s Libraries 2015: A report from the American Library Association. Kathy S. Rosa, ed. 2015. http://www.ala.org/americas-libraries)
What struck me during my visit was that the library was different. And better. And adapting to a changing society. And still free!
Thank you, Libraries. Thank you for staying relevant, updating your furniture and design to address current learning trends, and remaining the constant companions that you always have been.
And, I promise to use my new card. After all, I have to do something while I try out all those chairs.
Business Services Director, Palmer Hamilton