May 27 2015

Technology Takes Center Stage at Innovative Libraries

E-reading collections, tech training opportunities and 3D printing move libraries beyond books.

For libraries, the emergence of the Digital Age once meant installing computer workstations and Wi-Fi. But as new technologies continue to reshape patrons’ expectations, libraries must find new ways to keep up with the times.

In Minnesota, Carver County Library tackled the challenge by looking beyond print media when designing its newest facility. Walls & Ceilings magazine explains how the recently opened branch library in Victoria differs from predecessors in both form and function:

Small by traditional library standards, the 4,300 square-foot Victoria branch prioritizes digital resources in order to maximize space for people-focused functions, such as tutoring, small-group, and classroom-style learning. It provides a limited selection of paper books, while leveraging other branches within the system to provide book delivery on-demand.

The Star Tribune says the Victoria library also loans out e-books from the 3M Cloud Library and other services. Patrons can even borrow iPad devices and notebooks for in-library use and have access to onsite assistance via a tech support counter:

The Victoria Library’s “Technology Bar” offers concierge-style interactions with staffers to help patrons navigate the digital world of the “library of tomorrow,” thus expanding the traditional role of librarian to those of trainer, educator, concierge and adviser.

The addition of the Technology Bar mirrors changes being made at innovative libraries across the country.

StateTech reports that in Washington, D.C., the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library outfitted its Digital Commons area with 3D printers, collaboration spaces, and a digital bar where patrons can test devices:

On any given day, as many as 300 people are in the first-floor Digital Commons area, creating designs on Mac computers, working quietly in glass-enclosed meeting rooms or attending any of the 50 to 70 classes that the library offers each month, such as Intro to 3D Printing, Blogging Basics and Computer Programming.

The Centennial Library in Midland County, Texas, got in on the tech trend by introducing gaming stations and a media lab complete with a green screen and video and sound equipment. The updates aimed to transform the space into an indispensable gathering place within the community.

As more libraries test ways that technology can unite people with information, the experience should only get better.

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