Technology and Tradition: Finding the Right Balance

Because of Marion’s phenomenal growth we need to plan for a larger library, but we also need to think carefully about the kind of space Marion’s library users need. Libraries and library services are changing because of the way people need to use them.

Technology drives a great deal of this change. Using mobile devices to access digital information sources is taken for granted by younger library patrons. For others, libraries are becoming community centers and places for social interaction. Users of all ages expect transparency and easy access to services and staff based on their needs rather than library priorities.

But even with these changes there are some things about libraries that are not changing. They are still about personal service and sharing resources. They are about individual and community enrichment. They leverage relatively small costs into remarkably large amounts of added value and they help to create the social capital that makes for strong communities.

21st century libraries have to accommodate tradition and technology in order to meet the sophisticated and diverse needs of their users. Earlier this year, in a design supplement to Library Journal, library architect Peter Gisolfi wrote about traditions we need to hang onto and trends we have to anticipate. His work provides a good guide for Marion.

Library Traditions to Keep

We’ll make sure that our new library space facilitates face-to face service. Self-service will be available for those who find it convenient, but our focus will always be on personal service.

Libraries have become vital, active social centers but we’ll make sure that there are quiet places too—people still need a place for study and contemplation.

We’ll make sure that we offer space that is warm and welcoming—a place that belongs to Marion.

Most important, the Marion library will be a place for books and reading, and especially children’s collections. Nothing is more important than promoting early literacy and strong reading habits.

Library Trends to Embrace

The 21st century library is an open, flowing space that invites use and facilitates social interaction between patrons and staff and among patrons. It will have meeting and activity rooms with digital technology and media capabilities, but it also needs to be an informal community center.

The 21st century library is a “maker space” – an information commons that provides easy and shared access to content creation technology.

The 21st century library has varied and interactive learning spaces for children, ‘tweens, and teens that address the specific developmental and entertainment needs of each group.

The 21st century library is place where adults can easily find what they need, where they can browse, learn, have fun, and relax, or get help when they need it.

The 21st century library is a flexible space that can easily adapt to future needs and integrate new technologies and services.

The 21st century library is environmentally sustainable. It is energy efficient, uses as much natural light as possible, and integrates green space and constructed space.

The right balance between technology and tradition is a critical factor in our building plan.