Five Trends Shaping the Library Experience in 2024
2024 is a big year for library transformation. With the ever growing trends of AI and technology becoming harder for libraries to ignore, this year it is likely we will see widespread automation being integrated into library networks around the world.
Libraries have forever championed the concept of long-life learning and encouraged patrons to use their services as places of inspiration, creation, and imagination. In recent years we have seen libraries take on roles that are fundamental for supporting communities. Initiatives such as warm banks and community fridges are ways that libraries reconnect, support, and serve the modern-day patron.
But what can we expect from 2024? According to PressReader, libraries are confronting significant changes in technology, social behaviour, and patron expectations. After exploring how libraries will adapt to this notable change, we have compiled a list of five trends that are transforming user experiences in 2024.
What does an innovative library service look like in 2024?
In 2023 libraries issued an estimated 165 million books, according to the Reading Agency, to 7.3 million library users in the UK. However, the previous year has been a recording-breaking year for e-books, audiobooks, and e-journals with the demand for digital libraries skyrocketing. Worldwide, patrons borrowed a total of 662 million e-books, audiobooks, and digital magazines from libraries in 2023 – up 13% from 2022.
Patron behaviour and expectations are constantly changing with the times, and to retain the loyal patronage of their communities, libraries will have to boost their engagement, sustainability, and automation capabilities. Whether that be through the use of ChatGPT like Iowa School libraries, or hosting Modern Foreign Language workshops like Suffolk libraries, it is to be an interesting year for libraries, and we cannot wait to see which trend comes out on top.
The Top 5 Library Trends for 2024
2024 Library Trend #5
Unsurprisingly the digital transformation of libraries will continue to update the everyday library experience. Now patrons are expecting libraries to provide a seamless, innovative, and accessible experience. Libraries across the UK are predicted to introduce dedicated virtual libraries that will host a plethora of e-sources from e-books, e-magazines, e-journals, and audiobooks. Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire in the East of England have launched their ‘Virtual Library’, which allows patrons remote access to library sources and free downloads.
LibraryOn, a digital virtual library initiative that first came to attention in 2019, is likely to take off this year with its goal of increasing the number of people who use libraries, both in person and online at the centre of the launch. Click here to read more about LibraryOn
Libraries across the States have taken it a step further with their Digital Public Library of America, which provides free digital access to even banned books, ensuring patrons can read the books they want. The DPLA is more than a virtual library, the organisation works with a national network of partners to make millions of multimedia materials from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions across the country available to all in a one-stop discovery experience.
2024 Library Trend #4
Engagement, Engagement, Engagement
Libraries are constantly evolving, which is no surprise. While core library services, such as the borrowing and lending process conceptually remain the same, patron expectations surrounding library services are aligning with the social behaviours we see in our communities.
Where patrons favour engaged and united communities, the same applies to the library experience. At the top of the list of trends, this year our libraries are encouraging their patrons to try their hand at learning a new language. Over the last year, there has been an increase in public and academic institutions making conscious efforts to foster inclusivity by offering a diverse range of programs and services that cater to the needs and interests of all community members. Amarillo Public Library in Texas is hosting a full spring term of its English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for patrons who wish to work on their English.
Libraries in the UK have also followed suit. Suffolk’s network of libraries will continue to run language courses in 2024, with extra conversation groups. Including an Advanced Spanish Conversation Group for Improvers, patrons who are eager to learn are encouraged to practice their Spanish conversation skills in an environment of fellow community members.
2024 Library Trend #3
Yes, it may be that sustainability is a trend that occurs in the library industry every year, but with good reason. With global climate change a pressing concern, organisations are being urged to show their commitment to ‘going green’, libraries included. In 2024, we are expecting libraries to go the extra mile in making climate-conscious decisions that ensure the longevity of libraries for future generations. From energy-efficient buildings to embracing digital collections, libraries are making long-term decisions and changes and promoting eco-conscious behaviour. This extends to the use of environmentally friendly library suppliers too. At D-Tech we’re passionate about sustaining eco-friendly support and aftercare for all our customers. Find out more about our commitment to lowering our carbon emissions here.
One library that’s made several long-term changes to the way it operates is Coventry’s Central Library in the UK. Coventry library was awarded for its extra efforts with an Energy Management Award (EMA) following a two-year project to drastically cut carbon use. In addition to installing LED and Solar PV lighting, draught-proofing the windows, upgrading the mains supply, replacing gas boilers with a dual air source heat pump, and installing a new battery system, the library’s vehicles have made a switch from diesel to electric vans.
The changes speak for themselves as it is estimated that they will save a huge £60,000 for the first year alone.
But it is not just the libraries themselves making operational changes. Libraries play a key role in educating their communities and patrons about environmental issues and promoting eco-friendly behaviours. Sustainable California Libraries is a new program launched after 8 in 10 California adults say climate change is a top concern. Sustainable California Libraries projects focus on climate education, environment-focused civic engagement, water conservation, air quality, energy efficiency, and reducing waste. So far, California Libraries have reported that 90% of patrons participating in the programmes intended to apply what they had learned to their everyday routines. This year we are keeping our eyes peeled for more libraries around the world following suit and launching similar climate-conscious programmes.
2024 Library Trend #2
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation
Artificial Intelligence making its way into the library sector may sound a little alarming, but things like AI and automation can revolutionize library services and make librarians’ day-to-day jobs easier. In 2023, we saw a significant spike in smart speakers and virtual assistants with libraries and their digital collections becoming more compatible with the modern voice recognition bots.
AI is likely to help librarians with mundane tasks such as inventory monitoring and organising of stock. Iowa’s Mason City Community School District library has started to use ChatGPT to determine which books conflict with state law. This use of AI-powered censorship saves time and effort so that librarians reduce their workload and have extra time for engaging with patrons and community initiatives.
But it is not just academic libraries that are benefitting from the rise of AI and automation. Public Libraries can benefit from automation in several ways to streamline operations, enhance the user experience, and improve efficiency. Visitor analytics and recommendations can drastically improve with AI software. Libraries can gain a better understanding of usage patterns and preferences, which can inform collection development and program planning. Automated recommendation systems can also suggest certain book titles for patrons based on their preferences from borrowing histories.
It certainly seems like AI and automation are here to stay!
2024 Library Trend #1
Data Literacy and Information Literacy Programmes
Fake News! It is everywhere, especially on the internet. Whilst there are plenty of pros to new and advanced technologies, with the rise of RFID making our daily lives much easier, there are also a fair number of cons. Following in the footsteps of academic universities including the University of Essex, public libraries are predicted to host seminars and workshops on media, information literacy, and fake news. With internet safety in mind, patrons undergo training they need to help them spot misinformation online and help them avoid fake news.
Whilst the notion of ‘internet safety’ and ‘fake news’ has been around for years, 2024 is the year libraries become expert hubs on combatting disinformation.
The Information Literacy Group launched a brand-new event last year titled ‘Misinformation and Critical Literacies – Roundtable.’ This event welcomes expert speakers from around the globe to share insights on the vital topics of media and information literacy about relevant topics and fake alternative facts surrounding the stories in the news. Seminars focused on topics such as determining genuine information and articles, combatting information on the Ukraine War, and the role of library and knowledge specialists in moving education and training online.
With our libraries existing in digitally saturated environments, patrons and children must continue to remain safe online and enhance their information literacy. In 2024, we will see an increase in seminars and workshops promoting data and information literacy, amongst academic and public libraries.
Is your library equipped with the technology your patrons need in 2024?
Do you need support in delivering an innovative library service in 2024? D-Tech’s cutting-edge product suite has been enabling the next generation of library technology for over 20 years. Our range of solutions includes self service library kiosks, self service pickup lockers and laptop loan lockers , our library app, library security gates, RFID library tags, library book return systems, RFID inventory and scanning wands, school library systems, people counting, and library software.
Speak with one of our passionate and friendly team today about how D-Tech can support you and your library patrons in 2024 and beyond.
Call 01394 42007
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.