There is a terrible tendency of those outside the field of library service and studies to consider the field increasingly obsolete in the age of the Internet. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. There are still many things that you can do to make sure that your library is and remains a great public space.
The best libraries offer more than books. They are central nodes within the areas they serve, places where communities become “communities.” This can include everything from child care to income tax advice to university courses. Some even offer child care services. What after-school place for kids could be safer than a library?
Books represent a way of communicating with the past, and libraries allow myriad communication opportunities here in the present. Libraries can offer old TV and radio programs, and some have their own stations. In addition, some libraries offer translation programs, which can be invaluable if you need to have things translated for official purposes. They sometimes also offer foreign language and ESL classes.
History lives on in libraries. Old books, maps, periodicals, and other resources are ready to be examined for all your academic and cultural needs. What’s more, libraries often host cultural events, storytime for kids, traditional festivals, and much more.
Libraries are neutral and noncontroversial areas, which makes them perfect for people of different trades and walks of life to share the space and sell their wares. They are especially good for book or art markets and can also be a good place for farmers’ markets.
In addition, libraries offer WiFi, and for people who don’t have easy access to that themselves, this can be one of the few opportunities that they have to connect. This is another reason why they can be a good retail hub, allowing sellers to connect to free and fast Internet to facilitate sales.
Far from being obsolete, libraries at their best remain centers of learning and togetherness that can be the beating communal heart and intellectual and cultural lifeblood of a community.