Libraries You Never Knew Existed

Libraries You Never Knew Existed

Libraries have served as centers of learning since the dawn of time, when information was recorded on papyrus or parchment and stored for scholars to study. As technology has advanced through the centuries, libraries have adapted to remain at the heart of education and enrichment in cultures around the world.

In the modern era, libraries started out as large buildings near city centers or on university campuses that held collections of printed books to read on site, or to borrow and return. The popularity of cars had two significant effects on libraries. Cars made it easier for cities to grow outwards, and the construction of smaller auxiliary libraries soon followed to allow people easier access to library collections in their own new neighborhoods. And cars allowed libraries to go mobile, with many cities assembling rotating collections of library materials in "bookmobiles" that could easily be driven to share with people in outlying areas. Just like a conventional library, people can easily browse, check out, and return books and other library materials in these mobile libraries. One man in Italy retrofitted his own three-wheeled van so he could easily transport shelves of books to share in remote villages that are too small to have their own libraries.

The process of automated self-checkout at libraries has inspired the development of vend-o-braries. Like a Redbox for books, these free-standing self-service book vending kiosks hold small collections of library items that patrons can browse and check out. Library kiosks are outfitted with computers that allow users to access their own accounts as well as the entire library system's holdings, so they can even request or renew items. The kiosks also have slots to return items. Vend-o-braries have sprung up in cities across the United States as well as Canada, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Singapore, and China. They're common in underserved neighborhoods and can also be found in hospitals and mass transit stations.

Little Free Libraries are just as community-oriented as book vending machines, but are far less technological. People began installing Little Free Libraries, accessible little book-exchange cabinets, in their neighborhoods about 10 years ago. They're based on the simple concept, “Take a book, leave a book.” The books are free for the taking, but readers are encouraged to leave a replacement book whenever they take one. There are more than 75,000 officially registered Little Free Libraries around the world!

Technology and the digital revolution have made it easier than ever to access books, using devices like smartphones, tablets, and eReaders. Books and articles from collections all over the world are immediately available to borrow or buy at the simple touch of a button. Tiny Readers Publishing will soon release NoMeLoMe, a digital library of animated children's books. The vast collection of colorful, engaging stories will be available to read and hear in multiple languages whenever and wherever kids want to read them!

Author Claudia Wardius

An avid reader and the mother of four teenagers, Claudia Wardius has been a fan of children's books for as long as she can remember. She has a journalism degree and worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and book designer for almost 10 years before taking a break to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. With the kids in school now, Wardius now works part-time as a freelance writer and editor of cookbooks, historical biographies and children's ebooks from her home in Wisconsin.

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