Random Inspirations

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LIbraries Going Strong: Trends in Libraries Today

on September 4, 2014

This past weekend, Antonio and I traveled to Chicago to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, bond with friends, and revisit our favorite places. Naturally, we ended up in the Harold Washington Library, one of the most beautiful–and hugest–libraries I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.

The gorgeous interior of Chicago's Harold Washington Library.

The gorgeous interior of Chicago’s Harold Washington Library.

I’ve heard about the struggles of libraries to fit into today’s internet-centric world of eBooks, emagazines, and online resources, and this news always saddens me. I grew up in libraries, signed up for my first library card the summer before first grade, and checked out books by the armload all through my childhood. Back in the 90s, we had summer reading programs, in which kids could earn prizes according to how many books they read. For me, the prizes were just the icing on the cake; the real prizes were the books themselves.

Librarians were creative back then, dreaming up ways to recruit kids into the library in droves, but now they have to be even more resourceful. My trip to the Harold Washington Library showed me that libraries–and librarians–have stepped up to the challenge, and truly are evolving with the changing times.

Youmedia

As the surge in YA fiction’s popularity has demonstrated, teens are a huge group of readers, but it’s difficult to filter them into libraries, with their busy schedules and propensity to buy eBooks online as opposed to checking them out of the library. Harold Washington Library’s solution was building the YOUmedia Center, where youth can congregate, meeting with mentors who teach them about various 21st century skills like digital design, 3D printing, robotics, coding and digital music production. Antonio and I dropped in to the YOUmedia Center on a Saturday afternoon after sight-seeing at Millennium Park, and we were impressed with the turnout, as well as by the teens’ projects on display.

The "Maker Station" in the Harold Washington Library is where teens head to work on interesting projects, such as digital design.

The “Maker Station” in the Harold Washington Library is where teens head to work on interesting projects, such as digital design.

Our local library in Carlsbad also offers many interesting programs for teens, such as the homework zone and special events like talent shows, popcorn and board games, and pizza and movies. All of these events are the perfect way to draw teens and their friends to the library and steer them toward reading.

And great news: Libraries and eBooks don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Several libraries have now become “eBook lending libraries,” and there might even be a branch near you. Check out this link for a list of libraries that participate in this program.

Readers and writers, what do you think of today’s library trends? Have you noticed anything new and innovative in your local libraries? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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