How New York City's libraries are evolving

- Once upon a time, local libraries were a place you went to check out books or find sources for a research paper. Today, libraries look a little different.

"People come in for books, sit down and read, but also we've seen a growth in the use of technology," Queens Library President Dennis Walcott said.

Walcott said adapting to the advancements of technology was a key focus in helping bridge the digital divide by offering services such as free Wi-Fi, laptops, take-home tablets, and even hotspot devices that you can borrow to use wherever you please. QPL also offers courses that teach people how to use the internet, MS Excel, MS Word, social media as well as LinkedIn. Many of these classes cater to the older patrons. Also, amenities are making the user experience more accessible.

"If our virtual library was counted as an actual branch, it would be the third-largest branch within the Queens system," Walcott said. "People taking advantage of e-books and other mechanisms that are part of the virtual library. You see our libraries evolving to meet the technological needs."

And the need for libraries is still great. Last year, 11 million people visited the 65 libraries in the Queens Library system. Walcott said that as much as patrons love the evolving experience within the library, there is still a huge demand for the classic library experience that begins and ends with a book.

"I love it on Tuesday because Tuesday is new book day and people know that so both online as well as coming into our libraries and looking for the new books that are out there," Wallcott said. "So we see a combination of both, but technology has played a major role in making sure that people are connected to our libraries."

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