When you go to your local library, you might get the impression that the books are all there and then some.
But the reality is much more nuanced.
And it’s something that the authors of The Library in a World of Its Own and its sequel, The Library of the World, are keen to stress.
“Our book is about the libraries of the world,” they tell Quartz.
“But it’s not just a book about libraries.”
The books that the library patrons rely on most aren’t necessarily the most popular.
But as libraries evolve, so too do the libraries themselves.
And in this case, the most widely used libraries are those that have the most success.
The Library, which was published in 2015, is a look at how libraries can best serve their patrons.
Its authors include authors like James Cameron, who is now working on Avatar sequels, and the late George Lucas, whose Skywalker Ranch is still a thriving destination for tourists and local families.
The authors say that their book offers a broad look at the evolution of the public library, from its humble beginnings to the emergence of the modern internet, the rise of the global internet, and what it means for the future of libraries.
The Library of a Different KindThe authors argue that libraries today are in an era of “transformational change” and that their role in this process is “largely untapped.”
For many, the internet has given people access to information that they previously had to rely on a network of libraries to get.
But these days, libraries are often much more than a single place where books and newspapers go.
Librarians are increasingly the ones who are in charge of the day-to-day operation of the library, they argue.
“Libraries are not only a place where people gather to exchange ideas, but also to learn and share knowledge,” they write.
They say that they’re increasingly in charge, too, of the social and cultural impact of libraries, particularly the effect of libraries on children.
“Libraries make our lives easier, more affordable, more secure, and more diverse,” they say.
“For many of us, it’s the one place we can go to have a cup of coffee, take a look around at the world, and share with friends and family.”
It’s also important to note that this is a book that looks at how the public libraries have changed over the past 40 years.
They’ve moved from being primarily used for children’s and adult education to also serving as social hubs.
They have become “trendy places of worship” that have become an integral part of daily life.
“The most important thing about libraries is that they make us feel connected and part of a community,” they add.
And this has happened even as libraries have grown and become more popular in the 21st century.
“In the 2130s, when public libraries were at their lowest point, there was a lot of worry about the rise in crime,” the authors write.
“There was a general belief that if people could go online, they could be more confident.
Today, the fear is that the rise is being driven by a lot more social media.”
They point out that social media is also contributing to this increase in crime.
“Social media makes it possible to go to libraries with friends who may not even know each other, so that library patrons can meet people at cafes, cafes that have coffee, for example,” they explain.
“And these cafes often serve as places where people can socialize.”
The authors also point out the rise and fall of public libraries in their country.
“While many countries experienced a massive influx of foreign visitors during the 19th century, this influx was offset by the rise, and decline, of traditional public libraries,” they state.
“This led to a sharp decline in public libraries over the following decades.”
And there’s also the issue of what libraries should look like.
“At the time, it was believed that the public sector had the responsibility to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment,” the book states.
“However, the reality of public sector services is that many libraries are not in line with this vision.”
Libraries and the FutureThe authors believe that libraries have a big role to play in addressing social issues, including climate change and inequality.
But they also believe that it’s important to look beyond the library to the future.
“One of the key issues that libraries are addressing right now is the rising cost of living and the inability of many people to afford to live in urban areas,” they note.
“Many of these issues are linked to the digital divide and the rise to the dominance of the internet.”
They also argue that while many people are looking to library services to escape a rising cost, the actual cost of the services varies widely.
“It’s not the same thing every day for everybody, and it’s a challenge for libraries to keep costs down,” they conclude.