Library Trends


Atmosphere matters

People like to be in a place that’s comfortable, secure, welcoming, and full of natural light

The library is a great place to connect the community to itself

Life-long learners are productive people and they thrive in the collaborative environment of a modern library.
The library is where people go to find out what’s going on in their communities.
The library is known for being a place where resources are free and open.

Libraries are places that provide, explore, and manage technology

They provide a digitally-friendly social environment with lots of electric plugs, computers, wi-fi connections, e-materials, etc., all in a casual and friendly place.
They give people ways to explore new technologies with maker-spaces, creative programs, games, classes, etc.
They offer spaces to retreat from technology and read a book in peace.

In-Depth Library Trends

Atmosphere matters

“Visually pleasing, aesthetic design is an important part of the human experience through colors, font, and design; they all have a marked impact on behavior and emotion. Wayfinding goals of the Library Zone and learning outcomes of literacy instruction all depend on the targeted use of visual aesthetics.” - Seth Porter, Georgia Institute of Technology Library; ALA Conference presentation, Orlando, June, 2016

ALA Center for the Future of Libraries

The American Library Association’s new Center for the Future of Libraries has identified a set of important trends classified by the STEEPED acronym:
  • Anonymity
  • Collective Impact
  • Fandom
  • Fast, casual
  • Maker movement
  • Privacy shifting
  • Data everywhere
  • Drones
  • Haptic technology
  • Internet of things
  • Robots
  • Unplugged
  • Badging
  • Connected learning
  • Flipped learning
  • Gamification
  • Resilience
Politics and Government

  • Income inequality
  • Sharing economy
  • Aging advances
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Digital natives
  • Urbanization
Find the Center for the Future of Libraries at

Although most of these trends have relevance for some Buda area residents, several are particularly important to a community of families with children in the vicinity of a metropolitan area experiencing explosive growth. These include:
  • Connected learning - This concept represents hands-on, life-long learning, often in a collaborative environment.
  • Digital natives - If American digital natives can be considered as those born after 1980, most residents of the Buda area (55%) are born digital. This often translates into heavy reliance on mobile devices, social networking, insistence on digital speed, and multi-tasking between work and entertainment. It has even been said that digital natives process information differently than older groups. This should affect library technology, from basics like bandwidth and electrical plugs, to programs, and online resources and services.
  • Drones - This is a concept for the future but it is not impossible to imagine drone book delivery systems, particularly for those who are ill or to augment library hours.
  • Fandom - Modern fandom is not just a reverence for particular shows or characters but an active and creative remix of plots, costumes, and situations. This is not only a tool for constructing community and identity through associated library programs, it can support Connected Learning.
  • Fast casual - This concept concerns how users encounter spaces. They seek out active, social spaces, with lots of plugs, where they can hang out with their devices. The library’s adoption of living room-like social, flexible spaces will encourage local community building.
  • Gamification - The act of learning how to play a game, both digital and physical, develops both emerging and traditional forms of literacy as well as reinforcing collaboration and community.
  • Haptic technology - Haptic technologies are those that buzz, vibrate, and engage senses other than vision and hearing. They may become invaluable for those with sensory impairments and are likely to become embedded in more and more of the library’s equipment.
  • Internet of things - As connective technology becomes embedded in everyday objects like refrigerators, thermostats, door locks etc., there will be demand for training, both in how to manipulate the devices and in how to balance associated privacy issues with convenience.
  • Makerspaces - A Makerspace offers room and equipment to create things. This can happen individually or communally as patrons share equipment that may not be available or affordable for the individual family. It is part of the healthy tension that libraries face between those who want quiet places and those who prefer a collaborative buzz. Makerspaces can be configured with an assortment of equipment or be thematic. Popular themes include artistic, cooking, farming, gardening, music, robotics, sewing, STEAMpunk, STEM, etc.
  • Privacy shifting - As technology and data gathering become ubiquitous, opting out will become increasingly difficult. Although digital natives may have a different definition of privacy than older people, the library should be a place that both protects patron data and assists patrons with privacy concerns.
  • Unplugging - With regard to that tension between quiet space and the buzz of a communal living room, all of us need to unplug occasionally. Rather than label a quiet space as a “reading room”, re-brand it as an “unplug zone” or “digital escape space.”
  • Urbanization - Although Buda residents live near a burgeoning urban area, it is worth noting that they are in Buda to find room for an affordable house with a yard- space in which to raise their families. Even though they may not be interested in living in greater density, they still expect excellent library service.

PEW Research Center: Libraries

"How the Public Grades Libraries and Uses Libraries," June 27, 2016
Lee Ranie, director of Internet, Science and Technology Research, PEW Research Center
Presented at the ALA Conference, Orlando, June, 2016
Slides available at:


Think libraries are important, especially for communities
Like & trust libraries
Think libraries level the playing field for those without vast resources
Believe libraries have rebranded themselves as tech hubs
Still read books

Libraries as Community Resources:

Trusted, top of mind institutions for learning
Advocates for free and open
Advocates for closing digital divides
Privacy watchdogs
Civic specialists

Libraries as Places:

Embrace the Internet of Things
Become the “first” place to meet
Fill in “market holes” or niches
Test beds- maker masters
Community information stewards
85% of people think that libraries should definitely offer free early literacy programs to help young children prepare for school.
85% of people think that libraries should definitely coordinate more closely with local schools in providing resources to kids.
80% of people think that libraries should definitely offer programs to teach everyone, including children and senior citizens, how to use digital tools such as computers, smartphones and apps.
76% of people think that libraries should definitely offer programs to teach patrons about protecting their privacy.
Should libraries have more comfortable spaces for reading, working, & relaxing at the library?
64% of people think that libraries should definitely have more comfortable spaces for reading, working, & relaxing at the library.

Further Reading

Libraries and Learning, April 7, 2016
Lee Ranie, director of Internet, Science and Technology Research, PEW Research Center
Read online or download a pdf at:

Public Library Engagement in Urban, Suburban, and Rural Communities, July 11, 2014
Kathryn Zickuhr, Research Analyst, PEW Research Center
Read online or download a pdf at:

The Aspen Institute: Libraries

"Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries," October, 2014
Amy K. Garmer, Director, Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries
Download a pdf of the report:

[Our] new world of “information plenty” creates new, essential skills, such as the ability to gain value from information and produce new knowledge. Access to digital networks and digital literacy skills are essential for full participation in modern society. Economic, educational, civic and social opportunities are tied to a whole new set of knowledge and skills that barely existed a generation ago, and people without these skills or access to this information abundance are quickly left behind.
Public libraries can be at the center of these changes: a trusted community resource and an essential platform for learning, creativity and innovation in the community. Public libraries have the DNA needed to thrive in this new information-rich, knowledge-based society.

Providing access and connecting knowledge to the needs of individuals and the community have always been at the center of the mission and purpose of libraries.

What people and communities need to flourish in the knowledge economy:
  • Lifelong access to an ever-increasing and ever-changing body of knowledge and tools to ensure that their skills remain relevant to the current economy as it continues to evolve
  • The capacity and disposition to learn in small, quick doses rather than wade through mounds of links and piles of data that provide too much information and too little knowledge
  • The ability to use, understand, and process information in many different including text, data, audio and video and to evaluate the quality of information from different sources and understand its relevance.
  • Places to gather, collaborate and contribute to knowledge development
  • Access to conversations among creative in their areas of interest so that they can innovate and develop or maintain a competitive advantage in the knowledge economy

PEW Research Center:  Smartphone Usage

"U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015," April 1, 2015
Aaron Smith, Associate Director of Research, PEW Research Center
Read online or download a pdf at:

In spring 2011, 35% of American adults owned a smartphone
In spring 2015, 64% of American adults owned a smartphone
19% of Americans rely to some degree on a smartphone for accessing online services and information, either because they lack broadband at home or because they have few other options for online access.
Text messaging is the most widely used smartphone feature; 97% of smartphone users used text messaging during the survey period.