Why are Libraries so Important?
Why is a library important? What is the value of libraries? Why do libraries matter? If you were to ask these questions in your community, you’re bound to get a mixture of answers. You’re likely to hear the usuals such as ‘libraries are fantastic free resources for everybody’ or ‘my children love borrowing different books each week’. Or some might touch on the social value our libraries offer, mentioning the community spirit they continue to keep alive through seasonal events throughout the calendar year.
- Why is the library important to the community?
- What does the library do that makes it so important?
- What is the value of libraries?
Whatever the answer, it’s crucial that all members of the community are satisfied with their public library’s services and patron experience. At D-Tech we’re firm believers that the advantages of a public library are never-ending. But to make it more digestible, we’ve put together the top benefits of libraries all in the same place.
Why is the library important to the community?
Public Library Technology Enhancing Community Engagement
Over the years libraries have become well-established as institutions that provide patrons with personalised experiences and services. However, patrons’ behaviours and expectations have come a long way since the first public library was introduced in 13th-century Italy. In 2023 the ways our patrons interact with our libraries are focused on not what libraries have, but on how they deliver what they have. This is mainly done through the personalised patron experience.
Personalised experiences are being enhanced through the help of advanced technologies. By implementing advanced technologies, libraries are consciously choosing to stay relevant in the community, making it easier for modern-day patrons to engage with library services. Library technologies like D-Tech’s serveIT range of multi-functionality self-service kiosks, not only elevate the library experience for a modern-day audience, but they effectively streamline the lending and returning process, eliminating the need for librarians to be on hand for menial tasks.
In a time where 54% of library patrons belong to generation Gen-Z, expectations of digitally enhanced public services are considered the norm for over half of library patrons. However, suiting individual requirements of a diverse network of patrons can be difficult, especially when technology is constantly evolving and innovating. Solutions like SMART lockers can add a number of benefits to your capabilities, including a ‘Library of Things’ initiative, which facilitates the lending of objects instead of conventional books.
With patron-librarian behaviours evolving over the years, preferences for self-service support ‘at the point of need’ have become the norm behaviours, with 1:1 interactions reserved for higher level queries. It’s reported by LEAN LIBRARY that 55% of students and 60% of faculty favour receiving information about library services through self-service technology.
By automating patron interactions, libraries are free to evolve into community hubs that provide far more than a basic loan and return service. Once libraries were places where books could be checked out, but now, in an era that demands more of its public services, the importance of the public library has skyrocketed as a result of libraries responding to these societal demands.
What does the library do that makes it so important?
Continually Improving Support for Patrons
James Breakell, D-Tech’s UK Managing Director explained how technology is enabling libraries to better support their patrons: “We’ve been working with libraries around the world for over twenty years and in that time there has been a huge shift in the scope of services they provide. It’s no longer just about lending books.
Libraries now play a critical role in supporting the health, wellbeing and educational opportunities of local communities. And this is supported by technology, whether it’s making services more accessible to patrons or reducing staff time on library operations so they can better engage with the community.”
Public Libraries and Cultural Engagement
In many societies cultural divide is one of the toughest obstacles to overcome when trying to unite a community, as disadvantaged individuals are less likely to interact with cultural activities. However, public libraries have been widely recognised for supporting and promoting the learning of disadvantaged individuals and developing their cultural context. By offering safe, non-judgemental, clean spaces, libraries are responsible for integrating culture into everyday life regardless of an individual’s social standing.
Libraries actively encouraging cultural participation across communities through the provision of equal opportunities for all, highlights the role libraries play in supporting all members of the community. Library consultant and theorist Anne Goulding stated that public libraries ‘facilitating cultural capital amongst a community may be a means of addressing social exclusion, contributing to social capital and stimulating community engagement’, which in turn further emphasises the true value and important role libraries have in making extra efforts to tackle social exclusion and social isolation.
Public Libraries as Valuable Meeting Spaces
In the last year, we have seen libraries adapt their interior design to suit a flexible working space that aims to attract patrons to use the library as a study space, a meeting place for friends, or a comfortable space to enjoy a book or two. As the function of a library is to deliver public services to all members of the community, an inclusive meeting space where people from diverse backgrounds can come together is crucial.
By libraries adapting their workspaces to suit individuals working patterns, all patrons with specific need are being provided for. By highlighting free, flexible working places in the heart of the community attracts students, local entrepreneurs, small businesses, community groups and networking events. Through extending library services beyond the usual book and laptop loaning services, communal spaces and networking opportunities can be crucial for fostering innovation and supporting economic development.
Public Libraries as Economic Institutions
As well as promoting a community rich with culture and encouraging children’s literary development, the public library has many benefits when considering the economic side of society. As mentioned above, libraries can offer support to small businesses which in turn sparks innovation and provides a springboard for entrepreneurial growth. Libraries’ contributions to workforce development can also contribute to economic vitality by providing resources for job seekers including self-help career books, resume-building workshops and access to online job listings.
A more abstract way libraries are giving their communities, or in some cases, countries, an economic boost is from the aesthetically pleasing appearance of many libraries. The prestigious title of the most beautiful library in the world has been given to the Clementium in Prague. Featuring a mirrored chapel and an astronomy tower, the library offers guided tours for tourists and library stakeholders that explore every corner of the library. With over 100,000 tourist visitors a year, the Clementium brings in significant economic capital from tourists who seek out stunning architectural design.
What is the value of libraries?
Our Message to Libraries and Librarians – “Keep Doing What You’re Doing!”
Still not convinced of the importance of libraries? Well, imagine a world without libraries. Immediately we would lose access to a wealth of knowledge that continues to inspire generations to this day. Countries would lose information vital to societal growth, cultural heritage and scientific information.
In an age where people rely on libraries for informational exchange, educational materials, inspiration and escapism, tourist and economic vitality and entrepreneurial resources, the loss of an entire library network would cause mass disruption and would limit our ability to learn, develop and interact within and across communities.
As innovators of library technology for over 20 years, D-Tech International is always operating at the cutting-edge to develop the next generation of enhancements – speak to one of our experienced and friendly team to find out how new technologies could transform your patron experience.