Libraries in the Mall?
March 18, 2020
If there’s one overall trend in education over the past decade, it’s the blurring of the lines that used to define a learning space. As noted here previously, the traditional desks-facing-front classroom has given way to flexible spaces that better support different types of learning. Some schools are doubling as community centers, further integrating the classroom with its surroundings. And now, the next time you go to the mall you just might find a library there.
It’s no secret that indoor malls have struggled with vacancy rates as internet shopping and avenue-style retail venues have risen in popularity. Now at least 20 of them nationwide have introduced library branches, including one in Annapolis, MD, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
The experiment seems to be successful in both directions, attracting both shoppers who might not otherwise go to a library, and library patrons who otherwise might not visit the mall. That means more foot traffic for other mall tenants, for one thing.
The effort seems to resonate especially with immigrant populations, who might not otherwise be familiar with library systems and procedures. Many of the mall branches take great pains to provide multi-lingual offerings.
Typically, these mall branches differ from a traditional library branch in a few significant ways: they tend to be smaller due to space constraints. The focus is much more on activities and programs like group readings and story time for kids. That means you’ll typically find far fewer books than in a regular branch. In other words, more educational space and less shelving.
Patrons don’t seem to mind, though, as the branches provide plenty of educational activities for kids and other non-shoppers to enjoy instead of killing time on a bench. At the Annapolis location, users can even borrow laptop computers.
Things have gone so well in Annapolis that the county is planning and budgeting to make the location permanent, and to quadruple its size.
Want to know more about educational spaces? Contact the experts at Douron.