Libraries Are Embracing 21st-Century Resources; Facilities Aren't Just for Books Anymore, with E-Readers to Lend out, Phone Apps and Free Online Courses

By Henderson, Jane | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 17, 2012 | Go to article overview

Libraries Are Embracing 21st-Century Resources; Facilities Aren't Just for Books Anymore, with E-Readers to Lend out, Phone Apps and Free Online Courses


Henderson, Jane, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The photo of children listening to stories is clearly dated. Old- fashioned clothing is the giveaway.

Although taken in 1912 at the St. Louis Public Library, the activity itself children's storytime has never gone out of style.

"Storytimes are as busy as ever, and we still do them well," says Waller Mc-Guire, who has hung the 100-year-old photo outside his office as executive director.

In the 21st century, however, stories might be read from iPads, which hold dozens of books. Truck drivers download audio books to take on the road, and lawyers in Singapore email a Midwest librarian for information on trademarks.

"We're like retail stores, banks, media," McGuire says, "trying to understand how we can best serve people using new technology." Curiously, however, studies show that residents are often unaware of the vast updates, and challenges, as libraries grapple with 21st- century changes.

As the city's historic Central Library finishes a $70 million renovation, celebrating with a fancy party this weekend, the St. Louis County Library begins planning its own construction projects.

County voters this month approved a tax rate increase, signaling confidence in the future of their system's 20 buildings. It will be a "renaissance for libraries in the St. Louis region," says Charles Pace, the county library director.

Both directors say updated facilities are essential but they are not the only changes taking place in these public institutions.

BEYOND BOOKS

"I still get people who are surprised we have DVDs," Pace says.

Not only do 21st-century public libraries have free movies, they also may:

Help people start small businesses.

Offer phone apps to download books from home.

Lend out e-readers or show patrons how to use various devices.

Offer free online courses or access to expensive genealogy databases.

In addition, even though much conventional wisdom brays that children don't read, evidence shows that library usage among teens and young adults is strong.

A study released last month showed that readers under age 30 are more likely to use public libraries. Sixty percent of those readers compared with 49 percent of people over 64 said they visited the public library at least once in the year before the survey, according to a Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project.

Overall, library users told Pew that they want it all: e-books and print books, plus audiobooks, movies, magazines, newspapers, computers and wireless service.

The Brentwood Public Library recently bought Kindle e-readers, which patrons may take home (they have tracking devices inside so they don't disappear). Some of the Kindles come pre-loaded with several books in a particular genre, such as mysteries or romances.

When the city's Central Library reopens Dec. 9, it will have added about 50 iPads, which it plans to circulate. Phone apps are being developed to help patrons navigate the building.

Today's public library is trying to be "nimble and stay in touch with the community," the county library's Pace says.

In an email a week after voters approved the county tax increase, Pace said the revenue is important not only to make repairs, but to implement the "latest advances in the library industry." Although no final decisions have been made, Pace says the county library's future may include a "digital content creation lab, small-business incubator space, (and) Makerspaces, which incorporate 3-D printing and other new technologies." The library is responding, as he says, to a world that has gone from "information scarcity to information abundance," and yet its community-driven mission isn't always that different from the one of libraries a century ago.

THE CARNEGIE LEGACY

Some of the first public libraries had not only books, but billiard rooms and basketball courts.

The Carnegie Library of Homestead in Pennsylvania still rents out a heated indoor pool and holds concerts in its music hall. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Libraries Are Embracing 21st-Century Resources; Facilities Aren't Just for Books Anymore, with E-Readers to Lend out, Phone Apps and Free Online Courses
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.