September is National Library Month
From 1890 through 1914, public libraries expanded rapidly in number, collection size, and staff. One of the prime movers behind the expansion of public libraries during this period was the Scottish-born industrialist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1911).
Carnegie thought libraries and books should be available to everyone and donated much of his wealth to the construction of 1700 public libraries across North America in communities that had ensured the foundation of a tax that would maintain a free, public lending library.
The Glenwood City Public Library was established in 1900, twenty years after the city itself was established, when a board of library commissioners was appointed to oversee 300 books. Since its birth the Glenwood City Public Library’s collection has grown to over 8,000 items and so much more than books. But the resource items available to Glenwood City Library cardholders are not limited to what’s within our library’s walls. Since the Glenwood City Public Library is a member of the MORE Consortium they can borrow items from around 50 other libraries, increasing the total items available to over one million.
The broad goal of any public library is to serve the community in which it resides, but with the ever-changing landscapes of digital technology, access to information, and community populations libraries must be constantly evolving in order to meet that goal. So what will the library of the future look like? One direction libraries involves more seamless integration of technologies at a faster, more sophisticated pace. With so many exciting new gadgets and concepts such as e-readers, tablet PCs, open source software, and more, libraries must be on the leading edge in order to meet community demands.
Advanced automation, digital media labs and electronic outposts acting as ‘cyber cafe’ for access to digital archives are potentials for the future although the cost and space will present constraints for most libraries.
Libraries are exploring new and unique ways to provide their community members with access to the information and tools needed to achieve their goals. The libraries of the future should continue to be community-focused spaces housing a multitude of different media and multi-use areas while expanding services and offerings to meet their community’s needs.