Bye library, hello tech shop: the future of public libraries


School libraries were always my favorite place of seclusion and meditation when I was a still a student. I would devour books on Greek and Roman mythology, poems on love, and would constantly re-read and borrow (only to finally steal away from my highschool library a few years later, long after I had graduated as a final, though delayed act of defiance) The Riverside Anthology of Literature. And the closest thing you had to a search engine was the Dewey decimal system.

However, libraries in general are becoming a thing of the past. Books are replaced with e-books and the once paper-filled sanctuary is now becoming more and more like an internet-café for kids to go online away from their homes.

After providing stats about the state of libraries, Phillip Torrone offers suggestions about what libraries could become to stay relevant in the digital era. Instead of providing access to books, Torrone envisions a future where people will be able to go to engage in the making, creation or invention of things. He sees TechShops, Hackerspaces a FabLabs as contenders for what the library could be in the future. Rather than provide access to data everyone already has via the Internet, he believes these new spaces should give more hands-on opportunities to technology that is expensive and out of reach. These spaces would include devices such as 3D printers, laser cutters and CAD stations.

From library to factory, this is what Torrone believes we can do to cope and adjust to importance and prevalence of digital technology. Personally, I still would like pursue me and my husband’s dream of putting up our own public library (not techshop) filled with nothing but books. Real books. A library with no internet, no computers. Call it an ode to the old… but after watching The Book of Eli, I hardly think it’s such a bad idea.