The public library has come a long way since its humble origins dating back to the Mesopotamian temples of Sumer. Today, public libraries are ever-evolving centers of learning committed to sharing resources and knowledge with their patrons. Now, books sit side-by-side with 3D printers, electronic resources and cutting-edge tech tools. Here are three new trends in the public library space.
The Growth of Makerspaces
If people still carry the outdated notion that libraries are just a place for books, this year proved them definitively wrong: today, makerspaces are in hundreds of libraries around the nation.
These spaces offer patrons an innovative environment where they can collaborate and exercise their curiosity. With a dash of Picasso and a pinch of Albert Einstein, makerspaces are regarded as both an artistic and scientific realm where guests can pursue unique hobbies and learning opportunities, once only available to them in books. Instead of simply reading about Chuck Hall’s invention of 3D printing, many patrons now have the opportunity to experiment with this technology and gain firsthand knowledge all within their local makerspace.
Like makerspaces, community events have become a big part of library offerings and many are beginning to take advantage of the array of hobbies that interest their local patrons. Once the haven for book clubs and heated discussions on the endless controversy behind A Million Little Pieces, library community events have evolved to promote a more diverse library culture drawing individuals with a variety of different interests. Some community events that libraries are beginning to offer include yoga classes, quilting and social networking classes.
But in 2015, we saw the library become more than just a space for fun events: they were centers of refuge and learning. Following the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the Ferguson Public Library stayed open to provide a safe space for the community to come together, even serving as an ad hoc school. Throughout this year, libraries have continued to play a role as a community center for discourse and learning, even during polarized political climates.
Libraries are also becoming leaders in educating adults from classes to testing. Gone are the days when learning primarily took place in a classroom. Now, libraries offer intensive courses on anything from basic Microsoft Word to advanced HTML. Libraries also offer GED classes for those patrons wishing to get ahead in their academic goals, creating a collaborative and supportive space to achieve higher education.
While the library has undergone staggering changes in the past few decades, it has ultimately remained a public space to inspire and let patrons gain experiences and exposure to new tools and ideas. No matter what resources you have in your library, you have the opportunity to make it into a community center for learning and creation. If you want to learn more about what a modern library looks like today, check out our Pike’s Peak Case Study!