Re-imagining Public Libraries

Strategic Report prepared for the CULC/CBUC Reimagining Libraries Taskforce

Public libraries play an essential role in people’s lives as a source of accessing information and a place for facilitating knowledge creation. Throughout history, public libraries have pivoted and evolved to accommodate and reflect the needs of society. Today, they have become more than just places to seek knowledge or borrow books. They provide access to services and spaces for people to gather or pursue their interests and extend their partnerships to offer learning, personal development, and recreation programs. Across ever-changing social and political times and forces, public libraries have continued to provide free public services and spaces that allow everyone to feel safe and find opportunity. If anything is ever considered constant, it would be change. Social, technological, economic, and political change, disruption, and evolution are not new to public libraries’ history. Yet, the monumental and rapid disruption brought about by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been like any other. Seemingly overnight, libraries, like many other businesses and organizations across the country, were forced to apply different stages of closures, reconfigure their operations and infrastructure, pivot to digital delivery and services, and reassess their capabilities and staff capacities. Funding challenges on the municipal and provincial levels are continually on the rise. They are anticipated to be more so as governments seek to prioritize and adapt their funding requirements and models to encourage more innovative and nimble social and economic impact solutions. Public libraries of all sizes have been significantly impacted due to the pandemic, as have the communities they serve. Today, more than ever, public libraries need to be prepared for possible futures, be ready to evolve and respond to community recovery and work together to uphold their collective social purpose and vision in promoting vibrant democracy, a strong economy, and thriving communities. Read the Full Report: The Future Of Libraries