Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Is this a library?

There's a lot of talk about the changing notions about libraries. Here's an interesting article:

Basically, this describes a "library" with a computer lab, comfortable seating, wi-fi, and meeting space - but no stacks. It's an interesting idea, and my imagination takes off as I think about what we could do with a large library space like that. A job search center? Large-group performance space? A teen area, where we could put out the Wii? Space to run art programs? There are a lot of fun possibilities.

One big question comes to mind: would you call that space a library? It's really more of a community center, and I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. "Free books" has been our primary function for many years, and it's still our single most unique service. However, in the age of the internet and the ebook, libraries are struggling to define and redefine themselves, and this is a definite redefinition.

But is it really a good idea? Is it justifiable to use taxpayer money allotted to libraries to open a computer lab/community center/performance space? Would a space like that help us fulfill our mission, and help our community?

Are we thinking outside of the right box?

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