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Public Library Trends

In 2024, public libraries continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of patrons in an increasingly evolving world. From embracing new technologies to expanding services and programs, here are some trends shaping the landscape of libraries in 2024.

Digital Innovation

Libraries are embracing digital innovation and technology integration to enhance access to information and services for patrons. From streaming platforms and eBooks to virtual reality experiences and online learning resources, libraries are leveraging technology. Public libraries are expanding their collections to reach new audiences to remain relevant. Additionally, many libraries have invested in smart technologies and automation to streamline operations and improve efficiency. Systems such as self-checkout stations, automated book sorting systems, and virtual reference services are mainstream.

Focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

In response to calls for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion, libraries are prioritizing efforts to ensure that their collections, reflect the diverse needs of their communities. This also brings with it the call for book bans, censorship of authors, and “cancelling” leaders at libraries.

Expanding collections to include materials by and about underrepresented groups, hosting inclusive programming and events, and providing resources and support for marginalized communities is what libraries stand for. When one or two vocal opponents to this freedom of access causes disruption, it hurts all libraries.  Libraries are implementing training and professional development initiatives to promote cultural competency and ensure that staff are equipped to serve effectively.

Expanded Community Engagement

Public libraries are expanding their efforts to engage with and serve their communities beyond traditional library spaces to reach non-users. This includes partnering with local organizations, schools, and businesses to host events and programs, providing outreach services to underserved populations. This also includes offering mobile library services to reach people where they are, like a citywide book bike.

Additionally, libraries are embracing social media and digital marketing strategies to connect with patrons and promote library resources and services.  Check out the weekly marketing tips and insights from a professional library advocate and marketer.  I love following Angela and get so many tips to share with other libraries.

Sustainability Initiatives

With growing concerns about environmental sustainability, many libraries are implementing programs to reduce their carbon footprint and promote eco-friendly practices. This includes investing in energy-efficient technologies, such as LED lighting and solar panels. Other initiatives include implementing recycling and waste reduction programs and promoting sustainable transportation options for patrons and staff.

Libraries are also incorporating environmental education and awareness initiatives into their programming to raise awareness about environmental issues and encourage sustainable living practices. My library’s most popular program was a partnership with the water department about creating your own rainwater recycling system.

Flexible Spaces

Libraries are reimagining their physical spaces to create flexible, multifunctional environments that can adapt to changing community needs. This includes designing spaces that can handle a variety of activities, such as coworking spaces, makerspaces, and performance areas.

Public libraries are incorporating comfortable seating, collaborative workspaces, and technology-equipped study rooms to provide patrons with a welcoming environment. Libraries have always been about equal access to learning, exploration, and community engagement.

In 2024 public libraries are embracing innovation, diversity, community engagement, sustainability, and flexible spaces to meet the evolving needs of communities. By staying abreast of these trends and embracing new opportunities, libraries can continue to serve as vibrant hubs of learning. With strong leadership and funding to support libraries’ creativity and freedom to read, our society benefits as a whole.

 

For more about libraries follow me at: KathyHusserTempe.com

By Kathy Husser (Tempe)

Kathy Husser is a Tempe librarian and educator who enjoys travel and learning about our global cultures. With post pandemic traveling open up more and more, Kathy wants to share resources for family friendly getaways and fun trips to meet your vacation needs. She enjoys gardening, the outdoors and cooking too!