Our Future Library

July 11, 2013 by Nicole Grabowski

An evolution.

I tried to explain to my young kids the other day that we once needed to scour the card catalog to find a book in the library. They’ve never heard of a card catalog––that didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me? My eldest asked why on earth I would go to a library to find a book. That’s when I realized: the library of the future will mean something entirely different to my children than it did to me. And I began to wonder what a library in 10 years will be able to offer the general public.
I’ve already noticed it in new libraries: the outstanding ‘’green’’ architecture, modern furniture, more technology than my recent visit to the Microsoft store.
Libraries are changing, and I think it’s fantastic. Unlike the quiet, rigid and dusty domains of the past, up-and-coming libraries are light, vibrant, and sometimes even loud. Modern libraries are all about collaboration; meeting spaces with Smart boards and cafés are focal points. Classes, programs, and parent meet-ups remain popular.
Sure, books are still present (and will always be in some capacity), but they are fast becoming an afterthought as opposed to the main attraction. Computers, tablets, and smart phones rule our minds, and it was only a matter of time before libraries adapted. Not everyone is ready to adopt the idea of giving up their paperback for an e-book, but I wonder if we romanticize our relationship with books as ‘’old-fashioned’’ print seems to slowly slip away from us? Our hands and eyes will adapt to the e-book; digitization is the present and future. Efforts to decrease our physical space are quickly catching on.
I think my kids might actually enjoy visiting a library when they’re teenagers. Instead of being constantly ‘’shushed,’’ or spending time looking for a book (only to find that it’s been checked out and won’t be available for days), they’ll be offered a chance to learn with visually stimulating, innovative technology in a comfortable setting. And of course, everything will be at their fingertips within seconds. After all, the culture we live in now doesn’t support waiting any more than it supports being shushed. People will have a reliably cool place to collaborate with others for discussion and learning with the tools that support their lifestyles.
The social aspect of learning will be the future library’s niche. Because no matter how much we love our digital devices, real people in real places will always add depth and inspiration in a way that technology can’t, and I hope my kids appreciate that too.

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