The new public library
Times has a great St
ory on the latest trends being used in public
competition increases from book stores, and the
internet. They give great coverage to everything from
coffee, to library buildings.
\"Imagine a place
where you can rent videos, get your hair braided or sing
in a rock \'n\' roll band. Imagine a place where you can
also attend plays, fax a document or walk among rows
and rows of computers.
Imagine Starbucks, Amazon.com and bonus
membership cards; market research, tracking systems
and snappy slogans. Imagine all of this at no
charge. For more than a century, libraries were held up - and
apart - as sanctums where knowledge was sacred and
noise was muffled by a librarian\'s forbidding \"sssh.\"
Aloof, demanding, incorruptible, they were seen as both
teachers and historians, informing and compiling
without regard to popularity or profit.
But in the past 30 years, libraries have endured both a
shift in public culture and reductions in public funds.
Tax cuts in the 1970s and \'80s, and budget cuts in the
early 1990s pushed libraries to charge for services and
to find other ways to raise money. Meanwhile, seekers
of knowledge found they could turn elsewhere - to the
local superstore or to their computers.
In response, like once-isolated countries opening their
borders, libraries are expanding the definition of
libraries. They aren\'t just centers for learning, but have
evolved into centers of entertainment and social
service. They no longer count on the public coming to
them, but look for ways they can appeal to the public.
\"Libraries have traditionally been extremely
self-contained and conservative and traditional,\" says
Steve Coffman, who directs a fee-based business
center at the County of Los Angeles Public Library.
\"We have tended to think of ourselves as a special
case, and that none of the other rules apply to us. But
the fact is a lot of people can do the things we do.
Barnes & Noble can, and the Internet. We have to look
for other models for how he run our libraries.\"