If libraries are to stay alive, they must evolve. Seventy-five percent of people think libraries = books. Google pictures of libraries, and you will find stacks and stacks of books. However, books are only part of the story. To stay relevant, libraries need to be centers of community activity. Reading will remain one of those activities, but it shouldn’t be the ONLY activity.
Ask most anyone, and they will tell you that they love libraries. But, ask those same people when they last set foot in a library, and you will likely find that it has been awhile. They love libraries for nostalgic reasons, but don’t need them much lately. Downloadable books, movies, music, and audio have nearly made libraries of old obsolete. That is why libraries MUST evolve.
My favorite example of library evolution in action is Chattanooga Public Library’s 4th Floor. The innovators at this library turned storage space into active space by adding wi-fi, electrical outlets, and flexible furnishings. Now members of the community meet there to work on projects and collaborate.
Even small libraries are following this example. All that is needed is some redecorating and housecleaning. Weed the collection of old media and barely circulating items and open up the space. Invite the community in, and get busy being relevant again.