What do you expect from a public library in today’s world?
In my area, small public libraries are struggling. My family has had someone serving on my local library board of trustees for about 15 years. Small libraries have always struggled with proper funding, but since the pandemic, another shift in usage has happened.
Some communities are no longer supporting their libraries. That means residents of towns that pull out of library cooperations no longer can visit the library. Many libraries have imposed “non-resident fees” ranging from $25 to $50 per year. Our library had a one-time charge for non-residents of $5 basically to cover the costs of issuing a physical library card.
But in the age of digital downloads, ebooks and library services like Hoopla, will an ultra-small library with modest fees attract users who can no longer use their home library? Will these users create a drain on services?
What is the role of the 21st Century Library? Who do they serve and what do they need to do?