“Libraries across the country are facing changing tides, as demand for digital resources such as e-books and databases — even, simply, for Internet access — has grown. More Americans are making greater use of their public libraries, according to a 2009 American Library Association survey, with the number of average in-person visits up, along with circulation of materials.
“Public libraries throughout the country are really looking at who they are and what services they need to provide,” Library Director Monique le Conge said in an interview with the Weekly. “I think of the library as sort of the community’s living room. It’s the place where you can do homework, be entertained, read for fun, have a quiet space to relax, interact with your friends and family. Many libraries are adopting that model where its spaces are flexible (and) there are different kinds of seating for different needs, different kinds of tables, different technology.”
National trends reflect that notion of the library as a community space. The American Library Association survey showed that, in addition to borrowing materials, 35 percent of library patrons rank entertainment as a top reason to visit the library. Educational purposes — such as a place to do homework or take a class — also ranked high, with 28 percent of people using libraries for that reason.