What benefits do public libraries have for tourists? Public libraries are targeting tourists as there are many resources that directly benefit people that are travelling. Besides the glorious collection of books they hold, public libraries offer many other useful services for tourists. Whatever the motivation for travelling is, the library may just be the perfect place for travellers to go when exploring a new city.
An article by the Huffington Post mentions bibliotourism could be the latest trend for tourists where they experience many amazing libraries all over the world. Making public libraries a desired destination to visit while travelling will help in increasing library visits.
In this post, you will find 7 reasons why public libraries are a great place for tourists to visit.
1. City Tours
When travelling, tourists tend to seek out all the experiences a city can offer. What better way to experience a city than to understand the city like a local? Many public libraries offer free city tours that allow tourists to learn interesting stories, facts, and myths about the city, all while getting familiar with the city’s surroundings.
For example, The Hudson Library and Historical Society (HLHS) in Ohio offers nine public walking tours that cover the historical events of the area. Furthermore, The Boston Public Library provides Art and Architecture tours, which not only allow tourists to view the Boston Public Library but also the surrounding areas of the library which is in the heart of Boston.
2.Architecture / Design
Many tourists visit cities to take in famous architectural designs like the Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower or the Sagrada Família. More and more public libraries are becoming focal points of amazing architectural design. Whether it is a destination like Aarhus, Denmark to see a new modern design like the Dokk1 Public Library or a more historical design like the New York Public Library in the USA, tourists are taking notice.
In an era where many tourists travel to gather the perfect picture for social media, public libraries are becoming a desired place to go due to their creative designs. For example, the Atlantic published an article providing a glimpse of many different public libraries through an assortment of pictures. The visuals from the Atlantic article make it undoubtedly obvious why tourists visit the public library.
3. Free Wi-Fi
Perhaps a bit of an obvious reason to visit public libraries while travelling but Wi-Fi is one of the biggest necessities when travelling today. Most public libraries provide free Wi-Fi connection that will allow tourists to check up on emails, download a map or update social media. According to the American Library Association, 82 % of public libraries in the USA provide free access to the internet via wireless connections.
With the growing dependence on apps, smartphones and other technologies, providing free Wi-Fi is a great resource for tourists and will, in turn, attract new users to the public library.
4. Printing hub
From backpackers to individuals on business trips, libraries have tourists’ printing needs covered. Public printing solutions are common at libraries, which makes them a great place for tourists to go for any printing needs such as printing theatre tickets, maps or boarding passes.
A lot of libraries are offering access to mobile printing solutions, such as Princh, where patrons of the library are able to print their documents easily and efficiently from their mobile phone, laptop or tablet. This is extremely beneficial for tourists when they need to print a document suddenly while on the go.
Lapeer District Library in Michigan offers Princh mobile printing to their patrons. This allows access to patrons who want to print using their own devices in a quick and efficient manner. You can read more about them here.
Regardless of the method, public libraries provide a reliable location for tourists to print.
5. Social spot (Café)
A comfortable area to sit and a cozy atmosphere to relax is something many tourists look for during their excursions. Public libraries offer many comfortable places to sit and have a soothing décor made up of stellar design, books, art and views of the surrounding area that provide tourists with the perfect spot to gather and relax.
Many libraries have a small café where tourists can purchase a nice warm cup of coffee or tea to drink while they talk and plan out other destinations to visit. As emphasized in our previous posts, people believe a café on site at the library is a factor that would increase their visits to the library. This is also a great place to relax and enjoy a good book or the local newspaper over an item from the café.
Why shouldn’t public libraries capitalize on tourists who are attempting to find their caffeine fix or a place to meet? Libraries have the facilities as well as knowledgeable librarians to answer questions that might come up during a tourists’ visit to the public library.
6. Multimedia (Music/Movies)
We have all had the vacation where Mother Nature hasn’t exactly cooperated and the supposed sun-filled vacation became the one full of rain. Not a fun scenario for tourists of course but there is a remedy to turn a negative into a positive – the public library!
Public libraries have access to many movies and music on many different platforms that can allow tourists to salvage the rainy days. From access to DVD collections, OverDrive, and many different music and media platforms the library has many types of entertainment that a tourist can use when visiting.
For example, Halifax Public Libraries in Canada provide patrons with access to Hoopla, which allows them to stream and borrow free movies, music, audiobooks and TV.
7. Games and Activities
Vacations and travelling are expensive. With the expenses of a vacation always seeming to increase, public libraries can provide fun games or activities at little to no cost. Many local libraries have access to large amounts of board games and other fun activities for free or an affordable price. They also have access to video games, recording equipment, new technologies (like 3-D printers) or arts and crafts.
Tourists that may be staying in a location for a longer period of time can also find relevant activities for them at the library, such as: joining a club, online courses and access to databases are things that many libraries offer. For example, the Oakland Public library in California offers yoga classes, video games and studio recording time at library branches they have throughout the city.
These are all great options for travellers that are looking for a fun outing in a new place or craving to try something new. Libraries are an important part of the communities they serve, tourists should take the opportunity to learn about the offerings that the public libraries in the area they are visiting have to not only better their trip but experience how that specific library makes an impact in the area it is situated.
If want some recommendations for libraries to visit on your bibliotourism journey check out our part 2 of this post here!
We’ll be back next week with another interesting article from the library world! Until then, you can get more interesting bits from libraries around the world by following us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for stopping by!