Libraries have changed dramatically since I started work at the East Grand Rapids branch of Kent District Library seventeen years ago. When I worked at EGR, there was an entire room filled with reference books. I used them daily to answer questions that Google answers today. That part of my job no longer exists, but the library did not close its doors. The library innovated. As the needs of our patrons changed, librarians changed to fill them. Now my reference questions most often fall into two categories, finding things to read and helping to navigate technology.
As questions changed, librarians learned new answers. Today, I teach the public to use reference databases: business people needing demographic information and students needing SAT prep. I teach new users how to download eBooks. I tell them about the various devices and help them to connect with our library's ever-growing collection of eBooks. I help the public complete online job applications, save resumes in PDF format, and even create their own websites. I provide quick help on our public computers and schedule one on one tutoring sessions.
Libraries are evolving, too. In place of a room full of reference books, we now need high speed wireless Internet for our customers and the space to set up their laptops. Libraries need rooms in which our community can meet to work together. Libraries need to offer programs in lifelong learning and STEM projects for kids. Libraries teach the ukulele and check out bicycles and iPads. Libraries are recreating themselves to meet the needs of their communities.
What does Ada need from its library?