Public Space And The Urban Library Renaissance

<p>With plush furniture, coffee shops, rock concerts and meeting spaces, public libraries are reinventing themselves as the city's primary public place.</p>
January 10, 2007, 1pm PST | Michael Dudley
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"Long the subject of warnings that the Internet would spell their demise, public libraries are booming through new branches, more resources and more computers. And in addition to their regular schedule of children's programs and author readings, many have reinvented themselves as multipurpose gathering places that happen to house millions of books. Some officials actively court new patrons with everything from coffee shops and comfortable chairs to rock concerts and teen nights.

Many cities have spent millions to renovate or build new libraries...Urban libraries' renaissance in the Internet age is partly because of a more service-oriented culture, argued Linda Cook, director of the Edmonton Public Library and president of the Canadian Library Association. 'Libraries are just much more welcoming. They're newer, they've been renovated. Municipalities are starting to realize the importance of libraries to the economic viability of a city, so they're starting to put more money into them. And the nicer a place is, the more you want to come to it and the more you want to stay.' Such developments indicate that libraries recognize the importance of providing convivial public spaces."

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Published on Wednesday, January 10, 2007 in The Globe & Mail
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