Thursday, January 04, 2007

"Libraries aren't quiet anymore"

Seattle Times:

"Libraries aren't quiet anymore," said Chapple Langemack, managing librarian at the Bellevue library.

Indeed, today's libraries are morphing into the new town halls. It's a change spurred by technology and the need to stay relevant.

The King County Library System and Seattle Public Library are embracing this change and pursuing, within most of their branches, the "Third Place" concept — an idea that people like to hang out at a location other than work or home.

Its almost a mistake of history that libraries ever became about "books on shelves." Libraries in America came about in the early 1800s when books were the most important way of conveying information, while at the same time being mostly unavailable to most Americans. In the interest of democracy and an informed citizenry, libraries were established.

So, libraries were about books only in that books led to a healthy community. Now, it is about more than books. So now, a libraries role as a "Third Place" is just as important as the availability of books.

This sort of thinking is what I'm hoping comes out of the conversations I've been having with my local branch library and the Friends group.

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