Libraries are changing! Without a doubt, you have heard how libraries are rapidly morphing in this day and age. You may have questioned our need for libraries with our increasing access to digital texts. You may have heard of the bookless library in San Antonio or the Research Commons at the University of Washington.
But the hoopla in and around the 21st Century Library is largely forgetful of the library’s long tradition. Libraries have always maintained public resources that their communities have given greatest value. For some communities, freely accessible physical books are of greatest value to the community. Some communities need audio and visual materials. There are communities that want access to the world wide web. Other communities would like their libraries to be sanctuary spaces for the reader or writer. Still others are want a vibrant, noisy community space. No matter the amount of 3D printers, CNC Routers, baristas, tutors, ebooks, audiobooks, physical books (this list could go on!), librarians strive to infuse their libraries with the resources they feel the community values enough to invest in and share.
Our Library & Learning Commons at Annie Wright Schools wants all of this (and more) for our students, teachers, and community members. As a teaching library, our primary role is to help patrons understand what libraries can be and how to use their offerings. At some point or another, our students will leave the world of the classroom, but their ability to access the learning space that is library will always be there. If libraries host 3D printers, our AWS library should host one, as well. If libraries host meeting spaces, our library will, as well.
Pictured above you’ll see “Campfire,” a gathering point in our library affectionately named for the fireplace video we sometimes have running on an LCD screen in the area. Yes, we house our Adult Nonfiction section in the area, and we can line the shelves with whiteboards depending on the nature of the session. But this is just one of many new areas in our library that pushes the space beyond that of a storage area and into a reflection of the shared resources our community values most.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll feature other evolutions to our library and its services in this webspace. We’ll capture the many activities we host and facilitate in the room. But for now, we would like to thank the donors, volunteers, and colleagues who engaged in our efforts to improve our library, not because “libraries are changing” but because we believe in what our libraries have provided for us: common access to space, media, and, most importantly, opportunities to learn.