Feb 04 2013

Libraries Are a Vital Public Service, but It’s Time for Innovation

The American Library Association recognizes forward-thinking libraries.

Libraries are about so much more than books: They are about access to knowledge and, in 2013, digital information, which means access via mobile devices and the cloud. While cynics would have you believe that libraries are a thing of the past, the truth is that they simply are evolving. Elizabeth Dias of Time magazine explains why libraries are a critical component of the future of the United States:

As both the national economy and print empires shift, it may be tempting to take America's library system for granted. Marx reminded the audience to keep investing in the country's public educational opportunities, especially public libraries. "You cannot have a functioning economy if you do not have innovation," he said. "You cannot have a functioning democracy if you cannot have the citizenry able to inform itself." Nasaw agreed: "We should emphasize that libraries are not frills. They are not luxuries, but a sacred component of American education and American democracy."

Read Why Libraries Are a Smart Investment for the Country's Future on Time.

The American Library Association recently recognized five libraries for offering cutting-edge technology to their citizens. Here are descriptions of two of the five libraries featured on the ALA website. The rest are available here.

  • Mobile Digital Learning Tools, Boston College High School’s (BCHS) Corcoran Library, Boston. The Corcoran Library is “meeting students where they are” through their mobile initiative designed to showcase the library’s online resources through mobile sites and apps optimized for mobile searching. BC High adopted a new cell phone policy which allows students to use their cell phones for research purposes in the library.
  • German Traces NYC, Goethe-Institut New York Library with Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science, New York City. The Goethe-Institut and Pratt Institute teamed up to develop German Traces NYC. This mobile experience uses an augmented reality app to allow learners to explore German cultural heritage in New York City. After downloading the app, users can simply hold up their mobile phones and view archival photos layered on top of the images visible through the phone’s camera. More than 19,000 people visited the website in the year since launch.

Read The ALA honors five local libraries for offering cutting-edge services on District Dispatch.


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