The Array of Services that Many Libraries are Now Offering
Libraries have long been associated with borrowing books, and for the last decade or two, free internet access. However, as time goes on, they are offering much more than that. Some, such as the Chicago Public Library, are now offering their WiFi access from home for those who can’t afford their own internet connection. They do so by offering laptops, e-readers, and MP3’s for checkout.
Many are now offering creative maker spaces to utilize tools such as 3-D printers and graphic design programs. They also offer classes on how to utilize said technologies. Others, such as the Westport Free Library in Connecticut, offer stations to practice robot commands. Since Westport launched the program in 2014, more than 2,000 people have utilized and figured out how to operate them.
Even more libraries, such as the Chapel Hill Public Library, are taking advantage of the new OPEN Government Data Act. This act requires that all information, from healthcare to policy changes be made openly available to the public. There are also programs that educate individuals on how to access this information. The Chapel Hill hosts occasional events for this, specifically for entrepreneurs, academics, and civic hackers.
The Hillsboro Brookwood Library in Oregon is yet another organization now displaying their own art or unique collections for the public, including foods grown on local farms or classic American dolls. Speaking of the arts, some, such as the Chattanooga Public Library in Tennessee, are offering their own music studios. Anyone from local talents to aspiring recording artists are welcome to access these.
The Free Library of Philadelphia is offering their own healthcare-related services. These include yoga classes, access to blood pressure monitors, and sex education courses. Many libraries across the country have similar services, so it probably won’t be too long before a majority of libraries in every state join this growing trend.
Last but not least are the myriad of classes that many libraries now offer. They focus on anything from finance, to resume writing. Many also host classes on creative writing, plant growth, government-related topics, and ESL (English Second Language) classes. It seems as though libraries are becoming gold mines for public services that can greatly benefit those with a constant desire to learn.