June 25, 2018
Libraries used to be palaces where people went to spend their days getting lost in their favorite adventure stories or among stacks of books studying endless topics about the world. And while they are still popular—on college campuses, for instance, where students are buried in coursework and prepping for exams—the public library has seen a dip in patronage at an alarming rate.
The Atlantic pointed out that fewer and fewer Americans are heading to libraries every year. In fact a Pew survey shows that only 44% of Americans visited local libraries in 2015, down from 53% three years earlier. This is a drastic trend—helped by the dependency of things like visual alternatives and social media—that is bringing up the idea that libraries, at some point, will become obsolete. Libraries are now rethinking of how to get people inside, not just for renting books and movies, but for community. Here are some ways in which a library can bring in consistent visitors in the 21st century.
Turn the Library into a Local Hub
Libraries have always been a place for the public to come spend hours reading and searching for the perfect stack of books. But now books aren’t the only reason why visitors walk inside. In fact, since libraries began offering computer use and access to the internet they have increasingly become hubs for people to stay inside during the day to while away the hours and beat extreme weather. In this case, investing in library insurance is important to protect against possible damage of systems and computers due to overuse or everyday issues.
Libraries can partner with local private organizations and other nearby libraries to form a collaborative effort to bring in steady streams of patrons. Libraries can offer combined services like combining into a single membership spread across multiple locations for access in the network.
Create New Spaces
Libraries aren’t what they used to be. They are now valued for their spaces and experiences they create instead of just books on shelves. Libraries can be the meeting spots and venues for events and lectures, creating a sense of community in the process. A lot of libraries have already taken initiative and opened their doors as venues for holiday events and music specials.
Some other ways to develop a new experience for library-goers is to add a cafe offering drinks and themed specials related to books of the month. Maker spaces are big now as well, and feature local artisans coming together to learn crafts like woodworking, jewelry making, and clothing design.
Get With The Times
Technology has become more accessible, easier to use and develop, and rapidly more common, even among older users. Libraries can lean in by bringing on social media platforms and strategies and tie them with experiences like augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
This all may sound like science-fiction, but it’s the reality we live in now. Why not incorporate it into a library, which promotes story after story of adventure and imagination.
Technology is a great way to attract younger readers too along with social media. By using social media tools, patrons can interact with a library in a modern and fun way. Create a scavenger hunt or promote a book club or book of the month, not to mention events and staff suggestions, all on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Kids can follow a library’s Snapchat channel by incorporating augmented reality stickers or create digital scrapbooks of their favorite books on Pinterest.
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