I absolutely love libraries. For a while there, I really thought that with the internet, they’d soon go the way of the dinosaur. That really did upset me. But here lately, I’ve come to look at the future of libraries with a great deal more hope.
I probably am a bit biased, because I live in Seattle, the most literate city in the entire country, and we have a fabulous library system. While the libraries in Jacksonville where I used to live are closing branches and cutting hours, out here you can go to any library pretty much any day of the week and your biggest frustration will be finding a parking space.
But many libraries across the country are learning to change with the times. For example, it’s quite common, now, to be able to check out e-books via the internet, without ever having to step foot in the actual brick and mortar library. That’s extremely convenient.
I’ve also heard of a great many libraries that are thinking outside the stacks, so to speak. Libraries are becoming vital community centers. Here are some creative ways that libraries are remaining relevant:
My library has a bicycle repair station.
Another has SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lights available. You can go there and read and recharge, which is invaluable in cloudy parts of the country.
Tool check out? Need a musical instrument? We got you covered! (In some places, anyway.)
Many libraries are offering meeting rooms for free.
More and more libraries are getting self check-in machines, and DVD dispensers along the lines of Red Box, so you can do business with them even after hours.
As global warming becomes more severe, libraries are encouraging people to come and get out of the extreme heat or cold. And of course, most have free internet access, which is a huge draw.
Some offer free tickets to museums, or allow you to check out a National Park Pass.
Many libraries offer adult literacy classes or homework assistance.
Lots of libraries are starting to have cafes and used book stores and gift shops, too.
Sometimes libraries will show really interesting movies that you won’t see at your local theater.
I’d love to be able to print stuff on a 3D printer! Some libraries allow you to do that.
A slumber party at the library. What fun! Makes me wish I were a kid again.
Libraries all over the country seem to be expanding the number of classes they offer. I miss taking light yoga at the one in Vero Beach, Florida.
I’ve read about story time with service dogs. What a delightful way to get kids interested in reading!
Some libraries let you try out new technologies, like drones and 3-D imagery.
It’s not your grandma’s library anymore, folks! So if you haven’t been in one in a while, I encourage you to check it out!
Has your library come up with an interesting idea? Tell us about it in the comments below!