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Places with Purpose

I was thinking about why Bookstores got nuked by the Internet and yet Libraries live on. Perhaps it is because Libraries understand their purpose? A great read here on that purpose. Bookstores could have provided the same utility. Instead they piled books high and tried to sell them cheap. And the Internet won. 

Libraries groked their purpose and live on.

… libraries remain vital places, and many of them are more crowded than ever. Printed material, however, is not always the primary draw. “Increasingly, people can use that material anywhere that they want to, which means they come to the library for other needs,” says Jim Neal, the vice president for information services and university librarian at Columbia University. “They come to study. They come to work together. They come to use technology they can’t carry around. They come here to consult with experts, with librarians.

The pressure to accommodate “other needs” is especially strong at public libraries, which are increasingly taking on civic functions that far exceed the historical mission of serving books to readers. “Libraries are the new cathedrals of our society. They’re very important sanctuaries,” says the architect Bing Thom, whose new public library in Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver, was designed as a space of communal engagement. “People are living in smaller and smaller spaces, so the library becomes the place you escape to for socialization, for solitude, to take a breath. It’s the last space in society that’s free. Even for the homeless. There is a sense of democracy; it is a common space we all share.

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