The main obstacles for today’s libraries are Amazon, Wikipedia and Google. Whether or not these are the best sources, people want a quick and easy solution to their queries. In a world where we are provided with instant and constant gratification, we don’t want to have to travel to the library and scan several shelves before finding the right resource. Visitors no longer need to come to the library to read or research, therefore these facilities must make visitors want to come. To do so, they must create spaces that leverage the latest technology and cater to creativity.
Take elements from other facilities
Having trouble thinking of ways to redesign or reconfigure current resources? To establish their facility as a community anchor, library staffs should take the most useful elements of schools and museums and then merge and implement them into their existing space. This means incorporating art galleries, exhibits and artifacts, a room for book readings and movie screenings, a research commons for college students and other interactive installments.
Start with simple changes
If your facility doesn’t have the budget for extensive renovations or a complete redesign, don’t worry. Few libraries do. A simple change of scenery will excite and inspire your visitors. Rearrange your shelves to create more space. Paint the walls with brighter colors to make it more inviting. A bright, open space may make all the difference in choosing between the library and the coffee shop for a study session. These changes are both cost-effective and are a great way to kick start a creative initiative.
Encourage creativity and enhance the experience
The possibilities are endless, ranging from cost-effective to highly expensive. For libraries that do not have the budget to leverage the latest technology like tablets, they can use their existing resources to provide a creative space for both children and adults. For example, when showing movies or doing book readings for children or adults, libraries can include displays in that designated area that have similar books and movies relating to the reading of the day or the movie of the day. This could encourage them to take what they’ve learned to the next level, giving them another reason to visit the library. They could also create an art gallery for crafts that children have made while at the library. This would give children a creative outlet that they might not have at school or at home.
For libraries that do have the funds to incorporate tablets, they can place them in strategic places throughout the facility. They mount tablets on shelf end caps, giving access to the card catalogue, book reviews, as well as give them the ability to check out a book and find other materials and information related to it. It is important for visitors to learn how to use these devices because they may become a part of our everyday lives – more so than the Dewey Decimal system. By implementing tablets, libraries can show that they are not falling victim to technology; they are embracing it and using it to enhance the visitor’s experience.
Use analytics to determine placement and timing
People counting systems can provide information about the amount of visitors who enter and exit each area in the facility. Staff members can install people counters above each room, seating area or wing of the library to gain information about foot traffic in each area. So with door counters, library staffs can learn how often each area is used and by how many people. This knowledge would allow them to place cafes, kiosks, exhibits and galleries at a place where they will be the most noticed and the most used. They can also base the operating hours of these elements on the peak traffic hours provided by the people counting system.
It’s no secret that the focus of libraries is shifting from the resources to the overall experience. Incorporating technology and an interactive design is a way to offer an experience that Amazon, Google and Wikipedia cannot provide.