. . . “What we’ve learned about libraries is that they fill a really important role in the community by providing an inviting space for people of all backgrounds,” says Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association (ALA). “They’re important for creating understanding across different cultures and pulling elements of the community into the space.”
. . . Libraries are also dedicated to keeping teens involved in library programs and activities and provide a safe, third place to go with targeted activities and areas set aside for them. “Teens really want to be separate from kids and adults,” says May. “It doesn’t have to be elaborate or costly, just something apart.”
A free remedy for social and creative isolation, libraries are good places to go to get work done, offering a way to tap into the group productivity dynamic that has made co-working so popular.
“Libraries are important spaces for communities to gather,” says May. “There’s an intellectual energy that comes from hundreds of people working.”
. . . With some library branches increasing their focus on e-materials, others prioritizing their community offerings, and many trying to strike a balance of the two, libraries have some big budget and information-delivery questions to work out. Far from going away, they are as relevant to communities as they have ever been; perhaps more so.
“The question of relevance is out of sync with reality,” says May. “We’ll always be consuming new kinds of media, and libraries will always try to keep up with that. Libraries are changing to keep up with the times.”