The Historic NYC Library and The Future

From Flickr by melanzane1013

On my recent trip to New York City I had the opportunity to visit the main New York City Public Library. As someone who truly appreciates history I was in awe of the building. It truly is a magnificent place. Work on the building started in 1902 and the library opened in 1911. The initial building contained 75 miles of shelving and it had one of the most sophisticated book delivery systems of the day. The first patron waited 6 minutes for N. I. Grot’s Nravstvennye idealy nashego vremeni (Ethical Ideas of Our Time). To learn more about the history you can visit the NYPL site.

When thinking about schools of the future, today we have to consider how libraries will change and adapt. By just looking around and then checking out their website is appears that the library is working hard to move ahead into the future. In fact, I think that school libraries can learn a thing or two.

Start with the cool looking banner showing “Discover”, “Connect”, and “Get Inspired” on the website . There is a link that shows you how to connect to the library through a variety of social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes and Flickr). Patrons can also subscribe to their blogs and check out their audio/video and digital projects. The library uses VoiceThread for people to contribute comments and to highlight the NYPL Picture library.

One of the highlights of the library is the main reading room which is very impressive. I couldn’t resist taking this picture of the dictionary on the stand and all of the illuminated laptop screens. I have to wonder how often the dictionary and thousands of beautiful books in the room are used. Users can go online to reserve a library laptop to use within the library.

It is refreshing to see the contrast between the historical surroundings and the new technology. Hey, they even had a Wii in the children’s library for kids to play. I hope that places like this will keep pace with today’s digital world so that we can continue to learn from the past.

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