Libraries, once massive echo chambers of dusty books, evolved into multi-purpose spaces where you could print documents, study, do group projects, and use WiFi as you sip a cup of coffee. Now, it’s time for change again – to survive, they are transforming into something else.
Click start to play today’s Word Search, where you can spot a “library” among other buildings and structures.
With the prevalence of digital media, an increase in e-books and massive budget cuts worldwide, the end of libraries has long been predicted. But they’re still standing. While libraries of the past were about being inactive repositories of information, libraries of the future are going to be less about books and more about service.
The change is already in motion. For instance, in 2014, US-based San Diego Public Library opened their IDEA Lab, a place for exploration and learning. The lab hires teenage interns to run workshops on diverse technologies, like Photoshop and stop-motion animation, and participate in skill-building projects.
Similarly, in 2015, librarians at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina, US, created the Idea Box, a place where youth learn to 3D print, 3D model, knit and code. It provided a space where they could develop their interests in STEAM careers – science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths. And since 2014, New York’s Brooklyn Public Library has introduced pop-up libraries, a service for people who are homeless.
Outside the US, libraries are reinventing themselves, as well. Most have podcasts that inspire people to read – the British Library, in London, UK, for instance, chats with authors, and explores literary news like how a university professor is turning classics like Treasure Island into video games, to encourage children to read.
Tokyo, Japan, is trying something else – it opened a hostel with the concept of “a bookstore where you can stay”. Whether they are sleeping, eating, or lounging, visitors are surrounded by books – over 4,000 titles – and are able to meet other bookworms, too.