The Future of Libraries

What comes to mind when you think of the library? Maybe you think of books and shelving, or maybe you think of studying and heads-down quiet work. As we hit 2022, libraries are no longer just a place to read and study. They are becoming much more than that, becoming not a place, but a network of integrated infrastructures of architectural, technological, social and ethical ideas and innovations.

A Platform

Libraries have always been a place to collect, organize, and preserve resources for community members to access (or not access). Although this has stayed the same, the form of resources has shifted. Instead of just books and physical archives, there are now technologies such as 3D printers, applications, software, and tech platforms. As resources shift, libraries’ functions must shift alongside to support the new developments of knowledge and innovation in the community. Libraries are becoming a place of jumbled yet rich networks of information and people — and it’s important to allow community members and staff to easily access and use the resources libraries provide.

Whether storing books and resources for display or for off-site storage, we have shelving solutions that allow for easy access and organization. From static 4-post shelving, reconfigurable and customizable cantilever shelving, or efficient and compact high-bay shelving for off-site storage, we help libraries grow alongside developing technologies.

Learning Library Static Cantilever Shelving for Books
University Off-Site Mobile High-Bay Shelving System

A Community Center

Libraries symbolize the linking of knowledge and power, as they hold the proof and documentation of ever-changing social, political, and ethical functions. Because of this, they have naturally evolved into community centers — a place where people come together to share information. Libraries support everyone, no matter who, to reach their potential by providing free resources to information like the internet and the community that can help them to navigate the modern world; whether it’s getting through a class, creating a resume, seeking a referral, or anything in between.

Because of this inclusive environment, libraries also tend to bring communities together during times of struggle. It becomes a place of cultural refuge, and people visit not just to read a book, but to be a part of their community and feel supported. This presents a new need for a space designed to promote community. Architects and designers are redesigning the library to include accommodating solutions such as multi-use and social gathering spaces.

One of these popular multi-use spaces are makerspaces. Makerspaces are areas that allow people to access resources such as equipment, software, or mentors. It’s a public lab and educational space that offers access to tools and instruction to spur creativity and support innovation. This trend has led libraries to design away from solely quiet spaces to ones that also allow some noise and mess.

Makerspaces often include expensive equipment, so providing plenty of secure storage for people to keep their items safe is important. Implementing Day-Use Lockers is a perfect solution, as it also incorporates smart technology making it easy for users to lock up their belongings, and can double as a wall partition or island. Wall partitions and islands can easily transform an open space into multiple spaces, one for heads-down quiet time, and one for a makerspace.

A Place of Knowledge

Every new innovation in technology brings new opportunities for libraries to reorganize. The sheer number of innovations in today’s world means libraries have never-ending opportunities to transform, which is why an easily customizable library is desired. One way to do this is by utilizing customizable library carts. With a few simple pushes, your space can be reconfigured to adapt to your varying needs.

While innovation is great, libraries must also consider the bigger picture of what they stand for in a cultural and institutional context. The way a library’s resources are stored and made accessible reflects their identity and intellectual values. That’s why design is so important, especially in libraries, and why we offer customizable storage solutions. Libraries are an ‘alternate reality’ place for people to go where knowledge has no monetary value and isn’t driven by profit. Libraries aren’t engines of productivity like so many modern institutions, and they take people away from our individualistic and entrepreneurial society and slow them down to a community perspective.

Library Book Cantilever Shelving Carts
Cantilever Shelving on Casters at Library

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, libraries must work together to support our shared architectural, technological, social and ethical goals, and having the design and storage to back it up is beyond important in today’s modern world. So, now what comes to mind when you think of the library?

To learn more about Spacesaver Interior’s library solutions, click here.

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