There’s lots of talk lately about the library of the future. Some speculate is has little to do with books. Others think it will take $85m to build. I’m quite pleased with the libraries today but don’t think a reinvention is what it takes to keep libraries successful. Not in the drastic sense. Libraries are already a big communal meeting ground in cities where the unemployed look for work, students use computers for research and Facebook, and where kids get their illustrated fix. We have to bring the books to the people, not the other way around.
Some of the most successful libraries aren’t a giant building on a street corner with sweeping views of the green space outside and gigantic glass windows. They are the little ones, sprinkled everywhere around town. For example the Think Differently Book Exchange in Christchurch is a salvaged refrigerator-turned-bookcase. This homemade library was adopted by the community and arguably the most successful (and affordable) community project in the city. The responsibility wasn’t on the public to take care of it yet they went out of their way to adopt the bookcase as if it was in their living room (or kitchen).
Libraries like this may just be the opposite to the behemoth in the city center but it’s obviously what the people want (and use!). Books are more accessible this way and the honour system works. We are liable for the success of the written word. Let’s start acting like it!