01.12.2014

A new model for libraries; the key to modernizing education

A new model for libraries; the key to modernizing education

Image | Ala.org

Libraries stopped being places where you could just find books years ago. Music and videos entered the building decades ago, later making room for computers. Nowadays, some of these centres are considering featuring tools for creating video and even 3D printers. Libraries are expanding their remit to go beyond being merely a place to store books. The goal is to become spaces for learning through the wide variety of tools we need to absorb all that information.

Libraries look for the way to reinvent themselves. The emergence of the the internet has made their main function of being a place to find and consult information obsolete. This is why they want to become places where information can become knowledge. Rising to this major challenge are some institutions, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is leading the change in some public libraries in the USA.

Some of these centres have expanded, leaving their classic silence confined to some areas and creating others to offer all kinds of classes. Some even include tools for users to develop their creativity, such as a 3D printer or all the equipment needed for creating video and multimedia material.

A new model for libraries; the key to modernizing education

Image | Aspen Institute

All the following changes are converging with current times and the changing needs of users new technologies that have expanded access to information; online education is expected to disrupt all learning; the perception of privacy is changing; we belong to a hyper-connected society; and, what’s more, this revolution is expected to transform the economy and to contribute to progress and the expansion of new technologies.

Libraries continue to evolve in their role as curators of information. Now, however, they must adapt the tools they offer to win back the users who have drifted away recent years.

It seems that mobile technology support has become central to achieving this goal. Many libraries therefore have applications to make tasks easier for their users and even some through which they can consult the catalogue of books available. An example is the MIT application that lets you browse all university services, including libraries, similar to the mobile application of the University of Leiden library.

A new model for libraries; the key to modernizing education

Image | K-Tai

Even more interesting might be [the use given to mobiles in Hanno library in Japan](http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2013-07/use-your-smartphone-library-not -read-books), where they have placed labels on the shelves that communicate with smartphones via NFC and offer all kinds of useful information about books, from author information to reviews, among other services.

Libraries have a tough task of reinvention ahead them. In many instances, the books they store no longer provide reason enough to go there or even useful learning tools. This is why they need to come up with ways to remain spaces for knowledge that offer added value to users.