What Will Future Libraries Look Like?

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The goal of any public library is to serve the community in which it resides, but with an ever-changing landscape of digital technology and easy access to information, those needs can change quickly. As such, libraries that can learn to adapt with the needs of their communities and patrons are those that will be around for years to come.


Because of these rapid changes, innovation has become a major point of emphasis in modern libraries. In fact, the 2013 Director’s Summit for Library Journal was titled, “Innovating from the Top: Where Design Thinking and Impact Measures Meet.”

The Urban Libraries Council even has an annual award program that recognizes innovative public libraries in 10 different categories that include civic and community engagement, customer service, economic and workforce development, and sustainability. Libraries can earn this award with advances in outreach efforts, technology offered — liked 3D printers — and smoothly transitioning to eBooks.

Increased Access

When Benjamin Franklin started the first library in 1731, it was with the goal to improve the community through access to books that individuals might otherwise be unable to afford. Now, however, that idea has expanded to include other types of information and education. Libraries are no longer only the repositories of books, but rather act as gateways to information, education, and opportunity.

More and more, libraries are thinking of new and unique ways to provide their community members with access to information and tools to help them achieve their goals. If this trend continues, the libraries of the future will be community-focused spaces that house a multitude of different media and multi-use areas. More and more of the books will be digital, leaving space for other popular endeavors.

Multi-Use Spaces

In fact, one up and coming trend among libraries is the “maker space” movement. This movement seeks to provide useful spaces in which patrons can come to practice more hands-on skills. For example, some libraries have creative lab space with video and sound equipment for making and editing videos. Others provide patrons with a 3D printer, vinyl cutter, and a laser cutter. Another library has a loom for weaving.

Additionally, many libraries now offer large conference rooms and classrooms, many with video conferencing capabilities or a digital projection system. Some libraries even have performance spaces with bleacher seating for theatrical productions.

Serving a Larger Community

No longer are public libraries just hangouts for researchers and bibliophiles. They are becoming spaces the serve artists, craftsman, tinkerers, performers, entrepreneurs, and many other diverse populations. As public libraries expand their definitions of what they can do for the communities they serve, they must increasingly come up with innovative and interesting ways to do so.

The libraries of the future will be more outwardly community focused, more inclusive, and more innovative in their architecture, design, and program development. They will house a multitude of services we haven’t even imagined yet, but that will open up exciting new worlds of opportunity and wonder for the patrons who wander through their yet to be constructed corridors.

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For more information, please visit https://librarysciencedegree.usc.edu/.