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The Library of the 21st Century

Today we live in a fast-paced digital world. And increasingly, towns and municipalities are expected to keep pace. Close to home here, I can say that the Town of Los Gatos is doing just that. In fact, it recently updated its network to allow for more future-ready capabilities—for the town library and many other services, as highlighted in the video, “Building Networks that Last.”

After attending the opening of the Los Gatos Public Library (LGPL) earlier this month, my perception of what a library is and what it can be has changed forever. With a completely new ‘green’ building and state-of-the-art technology throughout, the library has thrown out its old ways and stepped up to meet the needs and desires of the 21st century.

Recognizing that we are dependent on the internet, the library has updated its wireless to the high-speeds of 802.11n and has added 29 new double booting iMacs. Adjusting to the increase of people working remotely and wanting a place to work, LGPL has provided ample seating –some group spaces and others more private –all with outlets nearby or built into the tables. Hundreds of windows and study rooms with glass walls allow a generous amount of natural light into the library, creating a pleasant atmosphere and saving energy at the same time. It has also ditched the old rules of no eating or talking, so people can answer cell phones and have snacks while they work.

The Children’s area contains comfortable and artistic Nurdle Nooks which are made from recycled plastic pieces.

In addition, the library has recognized that some people might not feel comfortable using a computer. It will soon be providing classes on computer skills in its new Technology Lab and have tech-savvy librarians walking around, many with iPads, assisting patrons with both computer issues and books.  Similarly, in Australia, The Northern Territory Library has utilized technology (like Cisco’s WebEx) to remotely teach certain populations how to use the web.

Then there’s the high-demand issue of being “green” with “smart” heating and lighting from Powersmiths, several recycled features including Nurdle Nooks, and a staff shower to encourage biking. These features, along with close proximity to bus lines and downtown, have made LGPL the first library to be awarded Gold LEED status in Santa Clara County.

As the pace of technological evolution continues to speed up, it challenges all service providers to look to what’s next.  The Los Gatos Public Library is meeting that challenge by evolving from being merely a storage space for books to a wonderful place where people can gather, learn, work, and play for generations to come.

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