The rise of the Internet and digital media have forced the library system to rethink its role in the community, Ms. Howe says. People don’t need to come to the library to check out ebooks, for instance. And digital materials don’t take any room to store. That raises some interesting questions for librarians. “Do the libraries that we are building now need as much shelf space?” asks Ms. Howe.
At the county’s Gilroy branch, which opened in April, the answer was yes. Still, it doesn’t resemble a library from days gone by. Instead of tall stacks of books, the library features lots of places to sit and mingle. There are rooms that community groups can book for functions, a story room, even a vending machine. Visitors are encouraged to talk—not just whisper—and to eat and drink.
Source: “Santa Clara Libraries Rewire for Online Era,” Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2012. (To view the full article, copy and paste the article’s title in Google’s search field. The results will provide you a link to view the entire article.)