Digital Life

If a Library Is Bookless, What's In It?

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The "Bookless Library." Is it a contradiction in terms, or a sign of the times? Information technology changes as soon we think we understand it. With mammoth collections to maintain, libraries are struggling to keep up — and to redefine their role.

What helps make the evolution of libraries so complicated are two related questions: What is the library's role — and who should pay for it? The squeeze on county and municipal budgets prompts many to wonder if they will continue to pay for these institutions. Others insist that the public library plays a vital role as a community center and as an intellectual oasis, a place to reflect as well as a place to learn. But if it's to survive, it has to adapt.

A range of approaches are meant to help design a library for the 21st century.


Tom Frey, executive director, The DaVinci Institute

Jo Haight-Sarling, director, access and technology services at the Denver Public Library System

Charles Brown, director, Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, N.C.



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