Not Your Parents Library - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delmarva's Public Libraries Changing, Thriving in Digital Age

Posted: Feb 26, 2018 12:46 PM Updated:
(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

UNDATED- If you haven't been to a public library lately, you may not recognize it. They still have stacks of books, but books are just one part of an ever-evolving space designed to serve local areas.

In this era of instant digital access to information, libraries still perform a critical function in local communities. So much so that several counties on Delmarva have, or are in the process of building new libraries or revitalizing existing buildings. The town of Berlin, Maryland is constructing a new library, which is expected to open this summer. Crisfield, Maryland. opened a new library 18 months ago, and Accomack County, Virginia is planning a new building in Parksley, Virginia.  

For one thing, it turns out people still like books.

“The death of the book has been greatly over-proclaimed,” said Somerset County Library Director Ed Goyda.

Still, libraries cannot survive on books alone. Thus, adapting to new trends and technologies is critical, according to library directors. On the technology side, the modern library has everything from high-speed Wi-Fi, and audio and digital books to 3-d printers, all of which are free.

“If it is something I want to use twice a month, it is a shared community resource,” said Goyda.

The notion of a local resource, a free space where people of all ages can find something useful is a common theme. For example, the Ocean City branch has a virtual reality room.

“People don’t just come to access content, but to create their own content", said Worcester County Library Director Jennifer Ranck. She believes that "local" matters. “We do our best to stay in touch with communities. We work closely with child care centers, local schools, we have member of our local Chamber of Commerce."

In Bethany Beach, Delaware, that means activities for their expanding retirement population, including a craft class.

“If we don’t adapt, we are irrelevant. Our job is to answer the communitiy's concerns, and their requests. And our programming here typically is a direct response to what our community requests," said Sue Keefe, South Coastal librarian.

And the South Coastal branch has a long list of events to meet that need.

Libraries are also striving to appeal to all generations, with activities for all age groups.

"Kind of like this place has crafts and movies and a lot of things they can do for all ages", said Brittany Johnson, an Ocean City Library patron.

Design is also critical to meet the various needs of patrons, right down to the smallest detail of putting furniture on wheels so it can be re-configured.

"What we do has not changed much, how we do it has changed, said Andrea Berstler," executive director of Wicomico County Public Libraries.

They trust those changes will keep people coming back.

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