The world is changing rapidly, and many may feel left behind as it does.

The move towards smart technology aims to improve the lives of people, but often it comes at a price. You can now live in a home with a heating system that detects when you leave the house or can be accessed from your smartphone at work. If someone comes to your door, a smart doorbell can alert you to their presence, even if you are a hundred kilometers away. You can turn lights on and off when you’re on holiday, all of which are great additions to everyday life, but that might feel beyond some.

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As technology advances, there is a fear people could get left behind, especially in smart cities where e-bikes, smart cars and on-demand internet services are the norms. Remember, according to Pew Research, 7% of Americans don’t use the internet, and as the world changes, they may get left behind. That’s where libraries come in. For someone who grew up in a world where phones had wires and books were only made of paper, it can all be a little bewildering. That is where libraries fit into the new, modern image of a smart city, according to Library Land founder Greg Peverill-Conti.

“They (libraries) play really rich and diverse roles… as a place to bring technology to the community,” Peverill-Conti said in a recent interview. “They’re becoming a kind of hub for digital intelligence in their communities.”

Smart Cities

To understand their role, one must first understand what a smart city is. Verizon Connect explains that the term smart city is not new, but the world might be on the cusp of seeing the first real smart cities rather than cities with smart elements. We already know and understand features including district heating, smart street lighting, and more domestic advantages, such as security, streaming, and even 3D printing. We can now do more than ever before. We’re connected to millions of people at a push of a button, and the entire collective knowledge of humanity can be found simply by accessing your mobile device.

In the past, that knowledge was stored within a library, and that’s essentially the role they could continue to play in the new world. Instead of just housing books, stories and access to an information, a library can been utilized as a key resource in the education and support of smart technology and of a smart cities. For example, they can act as a hub for helping people understand their Netflix login issues and connect you to people face to face rather than virtually. We all have hundreds of friends and connections virtually, but even in a smart city, having a real-life, living and breathing community will be important.

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Smart Libraries

A perfect example can be found in Columbus, Ohio. Tech Crunch reports how it is already a smart city, incorporating elements of smart mobility and event management. There are plans to turn the city’s library into a smart mobility hub, including a smart kiosk, car-share spaces, and dockless e-bikes and e-scooters. You might even still be able to take a book or two home with you as well. The same applies to Wichita, Kansas, where the city will use libraries to share information about initiatives with the local populous. The DC Public Library, currently undergoing a $211m remodel, will also have smart features to help residents adjust to new technology.

Libraries throughout history have been used as a place to store and share information, albeit on a page. In the new world, as well as loaning books to people, they will be the hub of a smart city. That means your local library could be just as important to you as it was to your mother and grandfather.

There are plenty of other reasons libraries are essential; be sure to check out our article ‘5 Reasons Why Libraries Are Essential to Have’ to understand why.

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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