Public libraries are providing more than books these days. The modern-day library is a gathering place featuring technology and innovation. The new library at Bown Crossing in southeast Boise is an example.
Branch supervisor, Sarah Kelley-Chase, wants it to be a community hub for exploration.
"You’ve got the tech side, but also just having more open space available for the community to meet, whether it’s for meetings or for creative collaboration," Kelley-Chase says. "We’re trying to be responsive to what our local community wants as well."
This $8.6 million building includes a 3-D printer, a virtual reality room, robots, coding tutorials and an iPad tree. There are 40,000 books, but there are also DVDs and video games, plus a large fireplace. The building was made using sustainable and renewable materials, and the landscaping was designed to attract wildlife. It’s not far from the Greenbelt.
"Every time someone walks in they’re amazed at how great the space is and the natural light and the materials that are available," she says.
On opening day, the library had about 2,000 visitors. Kelley-Chase is encouraged by the high demand.
"I’m hoping we can become a great place for dialogue between community members on hot topics. I don’t know what to expect--frankly there are a lot of possibilities out there and they’re all great," Kelley-Chase says.
The use of libraries in Boise is on the increase. In 2015, about 60% of the Boise population was using a library card. And the percentage is predicted to grow over the coming years. The next task for the city’s public library system is to revamp the main library downtown.
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