3 Library Trends Worth Noticing

As you navigate through library school or start off your career, there are various trends emerging at libraries across the country that are worth acknowledging. Whether tech-oriented or community-friendly, these trends ensure that public libraries remain relevant. They are also prevalent in school and university libraries as well. No longer just about reading or research, libraries have become the new public hub for gathering, learning, and literacy. 

Whether you are sitting in a classroom, taking an online course, or attending a meeting or workshop, these innovative concepts appear time and time again. Libraries have a responsibility to ensure they stay at the forefront of social and technological development so that they remain a sustainable cultural institution. While readership overall has decreased, library attendance is as strong as ever. So how are people using libraries? What are their expectations for library service? According to the ALA’s ‘2015 State of American Libraries: A Report from the American Library Association,” “from offering free technology workshops, small business centers and 24/7 virtual access to e-Books and digital materials, libraries are transforming communities, schools and campuses.” This digital shift has come to define libraries as the crux of cutting-edge technology and alternative learning.

Here are the top 5 library trends at the time of this writing:

  1. Makerspaces: What is a makerspace? Simply put, it is a creative, DIY space where people can gather to create, learn, and invent. This usually features anything from crafts to 3D printers to software. Many libraries are adding them, either as a designated area in the library to a makerspace cart that is mobile and can therefore be used in different library departments (children’s, teen). The main objective is to offer a diversified mode of creativity that is readily available for use. There are even local ‘Maker Faires’ that feature the latest technology, indicating what may be coming soon to a library near you.  Check out A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces for more in-depth information.

2. Bookmobiles: literally a mobile library, a vehicle designated for library purposes that holds books and other materials. Mobile libraries range from trucks to bicycles and even book vending machines! The advent of bookmobiles has created a way to bring libraries to the public. For example, the Fullerton library in California installed a book vending machine on the platform of its local train station. This is an inventive way to increase readership and also spread awareness of the library’s resources.

3. STEM/STEAM –  This is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The extra ‘A’ for STEAM stands for Art, which is occasionally an inclusion. STEM/STEAM trends have emerged within the last two years, the emergence of which in libraries coincides with the emergence of the Common Core in schools and the prevalence of tech-oriented interests. STEM/STEAM focuses on innovation and growth. Public libraries are currently trying to cater to these interests, honing in on educational development and the predominant social progress of these fields. Makerspaces often create the opportunity for STEM/STEAM programming, though these disciplines are also a focal point in schools as well. For further information, visit STEM to STEAM.

As you can see, more than ever libraries are aiming to keep up with the innovative nature of society. Digital readership has increased, and library users now expect their libraries to maintain a certain level of momentum when it comes to services and materials being offered.