Libraries have existed since approximately 2600 BCE as an archive of recorded knowledge. From tablets and scrolls to bound books, they have cataloged resources and served as a locus of knowledge. Today, with the digitization of content and the ubiquity of the internet, information is no longer confined to printed materials accessible only in a single, physical location. Consider this: Project Gutenberg and its affiliates make over 100,000 public domain works available digitally, and Google has scanned over 30 million books through its library project.
Libraries are reinventing themselves as content becomes more accessible online and their role becomes less about housing tomes and more about connecting learners and constructing knowledge. Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts has been in the vanguard of this transition since 2009, when it announced its plans for a “bookless” library. A database of millions of digital resources superseded their 20,000-volume collection of books, and a café replaced the circulation desk. With this transition, not only did the way in which students consumed content change, but also how they utilized the library space. Rather than maintain a quiet location for individual study, the school wanted to create an environment for “collaboration and knowledge co-construction.”
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