What’s all this new stuff in the library?

If you are a little bit old-school like me, you may wonder why public libraries are beginning to offer all kinds of equipment and services that seem to have nothing to do with traditional libraries. I still love books–I mean books made out of paper and ink. That’s mostly what I still read. The storytime program I do is focused on good, old-fashioned stories and songs. I still want and expect the public library to have books and DVDs and music, and I love roaming the stacks.

Susan Lempke, Library Director

Article by Susan Lempke, Library Director

But…I’m reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch right now, and I’m reading all 800 pages of it on my tablet, because 800 pages is a lot to haul around. And at the end of my storytime, I usually include a DVD picture book with animation and music and sound effects. The world is changing, and whether we want to or not, we are all changing with it. Libraries can be behind the change, or they can try to keep out in front so they are ready to help their users master the new technology and keep up with the world.

A new study just came out from the Pew Trust called Libraries at the Crossroads. It says that the people in the survey feel that one of the key roles of a library these days is “to embrace new technologies such as 3-D printers and provide services to help patrons learn about high-tech gadgetry.” We have always been the ones with the information, and that hasn’t changed. We know that the people in the Niles Public Library District don’t want to be left behind, and want to learn about new technology even if they can’t afford to buy it themselves.

We also know that another cultural shift is away from receiving information passively. Increasingly, people aren’t satisfied with sitting in a chair and listening to someone tell them things. They want to learn by doing things for themselves. They want to create and make and do. The new technology in our Creative Studio will enable people to invent, and communicate, and express themselves.

Creative Studio A has the equipment you need for making videos, recording podcasts, and transferring old recordings to new digital ones. You can create artwork, restore photographs, edit footage, and use software to design creations that will use the equipment in Creative Studio B.

Studio B is more of a maker space. It houses the 3-D printer, the laser cutter, the vinyl cutter, and other hands-on building and making equipment.

There’s also equipment you can check out with your Niles Library card to use on location…even if the location is your couch and you are using the Roku device to watch movies! (Click here if you don’t have a library card yet)

Do not worry that the Library won’t still be a Library. You will still find thousands of books and DVDs and CDs. You will still find programs that are experts talking about what they know. It’s just that now, if you’re really old-school like me, you can bring in your slides, your VHS home movies, your record albums, and your cassettes and digitize them. Stay old-school while moving into the future, like the Library!

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