Future of libraries: Wait … a petting zoo at the library?
Special to the Sun
This is the fourth in a series of articles exploring the varied ways that public libraries are continuing to reinvent their services and facilities in order to respond to technological innovation and the specific needs and populations of the communities they serve.
Click here to read part one of the series.
Click here to read part two of the series.
Click here to read part three of the series.
TRUCKEE, Calif. — When you think of a petting zoo, you probably picture cute baby sheep, goats and bunnies in a pen where young children can handle them gently.
However, these days the definition of “petting zoo” has been expanded to describe a new service being offered at many public libraries around the nation.
In order to introduce patrons to a variety of electronic reading devices, public libraries in states such as Maine, Ohio and Colorado have developed “Technology Petting Zoos” where patrons can handle and experiment with devices such as Nook and Kindle e-readers, Kindle Fire and iPad tablets, and the Google Nexus.
With such a dizzying array of devices available, patrons who have been able to compare and handle the different options are better armed to purchase the device that will best work for them.
Libraries in other parts of the country have added large and expensive technological devices to their “collections” in order to better serve their patrons.
The Red Mountain Public Library in Mesa, Ariz., has created THINKspot, a 2,300-square-foot collaborative workspace designed for local entrepreneurs and students who want access to a green screen, digital camera, 3-D printer, photo- and video-editing software, a holographic computer, and more.
Even after the Mesa Library started requiring appointments and charging per printed gram, the 3-D printer has been especially popular.
Aspiring inventors have been able to fabricate prototypes of a product in order to better position themselves to secure funding from potential backers.
The 3-D printer has been also been successful in attracting people who haven’t visited libraries for a long time.
A local tech entrepreneur in Mesa who hadn’t seen the inside of a library in years was inspired to found a “Code Club” to teach kids to write computer code.
An unanticipated benefit has been that the parents of Code Club kids have started spending more time using the resources at the library.
As technology expands and changes, libraries continue to evolve in order to serve their communities and offer resources for people of all interests and ages.
Pam McAdoo is a board member of the Friends of the Truckee Library. Visit truckeefol.org to learn more.
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