Libraries. You know, those hushed places that always reminded you of church? The quiet cathedrals of books. The vault of precious things in print? The ones you remember as a child with the stern-faced librarian sitting at the desk as you walk in, a warning before you even enter that this is a place of deportment, of good manners.
Well, that’s all changed since you were a kid.
Not the good manners part. The quiet, hushed atmosphere devoted to print.
Welcome to the library of the future.
There’s been a quiet revolution going on under our very noses, and only those who faithfully attend have seen the progression of libraries. It’s not always a welcome change, as evidenced by the fiery response some of our local libraries have gotten. Libraries are not just for books anymore.
Of course, you’ve probably known that for a while. After all, people can check out books, magazines, CDs, audiobooks, and movies all at the same time. But libraries are moving beyond that to more. The Smithsonian museums – the king of libraries of all types of things, muses on the future in this article. (note: Smithsonian, I’m appalled at your website. Bleh. Ads much?)
I’m cheering the changes.
Last week we visited our local library as an ABA outing. With therapist in tow, we checked out (bad pun alert!) the puzzles, grabbed a few books, and headed over to the music and movement time for little kids back in the community room. It was a good visit.
We don’t often go to the library.
Shocking, right? Well, the Engineer has difficulty there, and the younger two have turned into crazy little bratlings there. Story time is a bad idea for many reasons, and the library is visually overwhelming. So we don’t go. That has to be rare – homeschoolers who don’t utilize their public library.
While we were there, I picked up a few of the educational tablets one of my friends had mentioned. They didn’t have just one, but several in each age range. They’re preloaded with educational apps by category. I got the Engineer a math focused tablet in the 5-7 age range, and I got the Princess an animal focused preschool one with puzzles and ebooks.
You would think that they wouldn’t be interested – they have their own tablets, for crying out loud! Nope, library tablets are an instant hit, and the Destroyer is annoyed that I didn’t get him one too. I placate him with his sister’s tablet, and watch my kids happily solve math problems and do animal puzzles. Crazy world, right?
If I had needed to, I could have borrowed a computer and done my work there at the library. I could check out an e-book or two for my Kindle (that I don’t have) or go look at the job search section for tips and hints. I could form a group and meet them there, like my son’s scouting troop, or I could teach a class there for homeschoolers. My kids could use the big library computer in the kid’s section to play music and educational games. They did spend time at the puppet booth, as well as build with some of the blocks and toys available.
It’s a library. It’s a community hub. It’s the heart of an educational and literary outreach.
I’m happy that we live in an area with enough funding for our libraries to adapt and change as the community needs. It’s a good use of tax dollars. And even though we have tablets, we took advantage of the ones that the library offered because they’re a different tool than the ones we have. When the kids get bigger, I’ll send them on over to the library website to grab the J-STOR password so that they can go do some research.
A library is a resource. It’s not just for books.