With more and more information becoming available in digital form — from newspapers, to movies, to eBooks — it can be easy to dismiss older paper iterations of information as unnecessary and cumbersome to work with. In the same vein, it would be understandable to think that public libraries may begin to be phased out. On the contrary, however, as Anne Kadet points out in her article in the Wall Street Journal, more and more New Yorkers are using public libraries as office space.
While they have always been a valuable source of information, libraries offer much more than just hard copy and digital books. They have have most of the same resources (if not more) than private offices, providing access to the internet, professional software, conference rooms, and even recording equipment. Libraries have also always served as a nexus for networking, organizing, and community building. Further, going beyond the tools and opportunities libraries afford their visitors they can offer excellent ambiance and work space. Kadet cites the Queens Library Flushing branch stating, “it looks like a high-end art museum, spacious and airy, with lots of potted plants. Natural light floods the sheer glass facade with its gauzy white curtains—a perfect environment for reading. This may be the snazziest space you’ve ever called your office.” Best of all, the only thing you need in order to access any of these great resources is a library card, which is free since libraries are a public amenity!
The Elmezzi Foundation has been supporting the Queens Library for its Adult Learning Center in Long Island City as well as helping update its book and digital collection at the same branch. It is great to see that rather than becoming obsolete, that libraries are reinvesting themselves in creative ways and more people are using them.