In the Digital Age, What Becomes of the Library?
Nashville’s Main Public Library, located in a stately building in the heart of downtown, has a children’s section filled with comfortable sitting areas, oversized art, and a state-of-the-art theater for puppet shows and interactive story time. On a recent afternoon, children of varying ages were sitting or lying on the carpet, reading alongside rows of books lined on two-tiered shelves perfectly sized for little hands. Two grade-school children sat at a row of computers, playing a learning game, while parents and caregivers checked out books via computer. That timeless feeling, said library director Kent Oliver, is because reading, regardless of format, continues to be important. A recent Pew Internet study on parents, reading and libraries supports Oliver’s sentiment, showing the library’s traditional purpose – providing free reading material – is also its most popular: the main reason most parents (87 percent) go to libraries is to get books for their kids. But will that be changing?
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