Some may say convincing kids that libraries are cool is a fool’s errand, but several libraries are taking steps to reverse the nerdy connotations and make them part of the daily routine.
The Associated Press reported on the growing trend of libraries implementing apps and free downloadable music as an appeal to a generation who may be able to discern and fix myriad technical computer problems, yet views the Dewey Decimal System as if it were written in Greek.
It’s easy to see why libraries have an image problem: for decades they’ve been represented in popular media as sanctuaries for braniacs; a place to do homework and little else. And let’s be honest: they can be more than a little intimidating. Combined with the fact that home and school computers have handily taken over the need for students to tempt allergies by browsing dusty old tomes and too-heavy encyclopedias in cramped aisles, many could even claim that libraries just aren’t needed anymore. But clearly they still serve a purpose, even if that purpose is constantly mutating thanks to the unyielding spread of technology.
Libraries are increasingly offering the stuff technophiles crave – like downloadable audio books for iDevices – but that’s not where the face-lift ends. According to the article, many are altering their layouts, too. The library of yesterday was a simple space ruled by a complex system. The library of tomorrow will resemble coffee shops and computer labs — spacious and comfortable.
This dedication to roping in the iGeneration is inspired, but bittersweet. Those brick-and-mortar buildings and imposing walls of books certainly hold a certain appeal, representing a simpler time in gleaning information where things, ironically, weren’t so simple. With everything just a click away now, perhaps nostalgia for such an old-fashioned institution is a bit silly.
But admit it – looking for pictures via microfiche is so much cooler than typing a word into a bar and mindlessly tapping ‘Search’ — like I just did for the above image.