The closing of libraries in small towns and plenty of free digital copies of books that can be accessed online suggest hard times for libraries. However, thanks to a new concept, libraries are well alive and flourishing in some bigger cities. This new concept attracts a higher number of people to libraries that don’t necessarily come there with the objectives to read, study, or work traditionally but to spend their time differently. When a pioneer library opens in the morning, some visitors are already waiting outside, which suggests difficulties in finding seating space for everybody else coming to the library throughout the day, turning a simple library visit into a Berghain experience. Depending on the time, of the day one can’t even be sure of granted entrance anymore.
Libraries – the New Place to Be
As stated above, the traditional purpose of libraries has already shifted in some places. There are still visitors who just wish to read, research, or work in silence. Some visitors, however, are coming there with their luggage, waiting for their next departing train or flight, others are there to meet acquaintances near the seating area, and some are there to have a place to go after school or work. The libraries’ staff do not always dread these changes. Instead, they welcome the guests with open arms, even if that guest isn’t coming there for the books or favorable working environment. Some even go so far as to introduce changes to meet the people’s needs, such as reducing the number of physical books in their libraries to make space for more seating areas.
Library Situation in Augsburg
The question arises if these changes to the traditional concept of libraries in some places will affect the future situation in Augsburg with its public library, as well as the library on campus. It is not clear if there is the option to create additional seating areas to offer space for the growing number of visitors the new trend attracts. It’s also unclear if the staff in charge are willing to introduce the respective changes to follow a new approach, as well as if the people would appreciate a more progressive concept concerning the city’s libraries. Let alone if the library on campus became more of a place to be than to research, work, or study, that would consequently make it harder for the university’s students and staff to work effectively in the library.
So while it has shown that a new concept introduced at the right place at the right time can positively affect the present situation, it should not be forgotten that everything comes with the respective pros and cons. It may therefore be possible for bigger cities to attract more people to libraries with this approach; however, this doesn’t guarantee for this concept to work out in every context or for every situation, as for example the one on campus.
author: Teresa Schneider