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Libraries in Shopping Areas

  • July 7, 2010
  • Maya
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Via Yahoo! News

People streamed into a storefront on a recent summer day at an upscale Dallas mall, but they weren’t drawn to a heavy discount on designer clothes. It was story sing-a-long time for babies at one of the city library’s newest outposts.

The library for kids 12 and under has been wildly successful in offering unconventional access to families who might not make a trip to a traditional public library, and it’s one of a growing number of strategies used by librarians nationwide to reintroduce communities to their local library.

“I think what’s happening now is really that focus on convenience,” said Sari Feldman, president of the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association. “How do we make the public library as convenient as Amazon, Netflix? Part of that is putting library branches in the path of customer.””We are very aware of the fact that our biggest advantage is that we’re free, but if time is actually a commodity for people, will people be willing to spend money rather than go to a library?”

She said putting libraries in malls is one of many efforts by public libraries to become more convenient. Even at more traditional branches, libraries have built cafes, provided downloadable books or installed drive-through windows.

Some locations are arranged like traditional libraries, while others resemble a bookstore. There’s also a handful of libraries with arts centers, museums and even apartment buildings.

“It’s really that public libraries are really in the midst of some amazing transformation,” Burger said. “I think the point of all this is we have multiple generations that we’re serving right now and what we’re trying to do is surprise and delight our customers.”

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