Scenarios 2025

13. Libraries provide space more so than collections

With most of their collections online, libraries of 2025 have been freed from the need to devote most of their space to warehousing physical items. Instead library facilities are geared to users, accommodating a great variety of activities. Visitors come to libraries for meeting rooms, quiet study rooms, maker-spaces, soundproof practice rooms, tech labs, tech-free zones, peaceful reading rooms and out-of-school activity zones. Mixed-use partnerships are common; public libraries often include offices of other community and nonprofit services. Some spaces are revenue-generators, like cutting-edge conference facilities. Business libraries rent out coworking space to self-employed people who relish a social work environment. Less pressed for space, libraries become more accommodating; single parents are thrilled to find that the county law library has a children’s play area, while stressed-out students unwind in the campus library’s coffee shop or game room.


With such a variety of activities taking place, the ways libraries are designed has changed dramatically. Cultivating active uses while preserving quiet, restful spaces is a major consideration. Since needs will change unpredictably over time, designing flexible spaces is known as the best practice. The way libraries talk to their funders has changed too, emphasizing how they can provide those user-centric spaces needed by the community or campus.


Main Points:

  1. Libraries provide a variety of activity spaces, services and programs
  2. Libraries provide unique spaces that community members want to show off; showcase for the best in the community
  3. Library buildings rented for other uses; mixed uses
  4. Organizational partnerships
  5. Ways libraries talk about their services to fund change
  6. Ways libraries are constructed are altered; More flexible uses planned for



Impact on libraries: 5

Probability: 4

Speed unfolding: Slowly

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