JOPLIN, Mo. —
What will libraries of the future be like?
That is a question facing libraries around the nation. How should they best spend their money to accommodate the tremendous changes of our digital world?
Should their budgets for hardcover and paperback books be reduced in favor of purchasing access to electronic versions?
Should libraries shift their budgets to include more technological equipment and online resources, such as a subscription to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, a company that has been publishing genealogical articles about New England families since 1847?
Another example is a subscription to PERSI, a service that provides access to more than 1.6 million genealogy and local history articles. The Allen County Public Library at Ft. Wayne, Ind., is an example of a library that offers this subscription. Most university libraries also offer PERSI.
Will libraries of the future still need large buildings? Most experts on the subject believe that libraries will still be large, but they will definitely take on new roles.
Not only will they be a resource center where people can take online classes and access online books, magazine articles, government documents and other archives, the libraries will also offer technology and education programs.
Some examples of those programs are learning new languages; job training; tools to establish and run a small business; basic life skills and computer technology.
Have you checked the website for your local library lately? It is probably offering many of these classes already.
Local organizations will utilize some rooms for their meetings.
An example is the Joplin Public Library, which has provided a meeting place for the Joplin Writers' Guild for many years.
Libraries are also providing artists with a space to showcase their creations. A few months ago, Jim and I visited a library at Windsor, Ont., that had magnificent art displays.
Our local library in Plainfield recently had a quilt exhibit.
Many libraries of the future will have a cafe and gift shop where patrons can socialize and buy gifts.
The Library Center on Campbell Avenue in Springfield, Mo., already has such areas.
How do you feel about these changes? Your local library has probably made some of the changes already. What additional changes may occur that I didn't list?
Suggestions or queries? Send to Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168, or contact: frankiemeyer @yahoo.com.