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Expanding Role of Public Libraries

August 27, 2013

Public libraries are rapidly changing their role from lenders of books to community meeting places and resource centers.  E-Books are taking over, reducing the touchy-feely emotions of searching for a book to read.  The life cycle of books in collections are likewise being reduced with the large number of new books being published each year while the reference section is supplemented with Internet searches.  Movies, music and courses on CDs and download versions are also available in most libraries.


I am on the board of the East Brunswick Public Library Foundation whose purpose is to raise seed money for new projectsPrivate-library that are not covered by the Library’s regular funding.  Our local library employs more than 95 people, is open 65 hours a week, has programs in its meeting rooms almost every weekday, has two large computer centers, a children’s section, a health resource center, two different exhibitions a month, a business resource center and is host to the local cable TV station – EBTV.   Dozens of tutors use the library each week teaching their students and certified Library personnel serve as test proctors.  The Library’s catalogue can be accessed online and reminders are sent by email reducing the number of past due borrowings.  You can even get a visa photo, a new passport or an existing one renewed at the Library.  I personally cut down my magazine subscriptions and go to the Library twice a month to review the latest issues of my favorite periodicals.  Check-outs can be done on one of two electronic machines… of which our Foundation provided the funding for one of them.


Another program that our Foundation provided the money for that I have am simply amazed with is the “Just for the Health of It” program.  Library card holders can come into our library and receive extensive research on specific medical conditions they are concerned about.  Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ) has provided funding to have our Library provide a trained certified medical research librarian to offer this service for people using one of their fitness & wellness centers one day a week.  This program has already received national attention with training being requested by libraries throughout the United States and a more extensive roll out of this program is being considered by RWJ.  A health portal that was created by the Library and funded in whole or part with federal funds from the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health and Human Services can be accessed at


Things change… so do libraries.  Check out your local public library and see what they are doing to make life easier and more enjoyable.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 27, 2013 12:11 pm

    Hi, Ed,

    This is an excellent article! As a former librarian/educational media specialist and library trustee, I am well aware of the changing role of libraries in our society. Today, libraries offer much more than books and magazines. There are constant programs for the community to enjoy and many education programs as well. Libraries are a hub for community cultural activities. As to East Brunswick library, my husband and I purchased cards when we lived in the area because this particular library is a focal point for Middlesex County, NJ.

    As an author whose novels are purchased by libraries throughout the English speaking world, I appreciate the role of libraries in encouraging literacy.

    I am now waiting for library orders to come in for my co-authored mystery novel THE THIRD EYE, scheduled for publication in hardcover on Sept. 12th.


    Jacqueline Seewald
    Beyond the Bo Tree
    Death Legacy;jsessionid=1393C3C686B0F8B9EDEDD9B62B0A54F8?authorid=2189

  2. Robert Nagler permalink
    August 27, 2013 12:22 pm

    Hi Ed I think the Library is great place to get information and place for programs
    for people .

  3. shalomray permalink
    August 27, 2013 12:26 pm

    Amazing stuff, although with e-books so readily available with a tap on an iPad screen, I find myself using the public library less than ever. But, they are still very relevant and important institutions, particulary for certain segments of the population such as students, those in career transition, educators and seniors. Libraries are true centers of community lifelong learning. If they evolve with technology and keep up with the pace of soceital changes, they will continue to serve this vital function far into the foreseeable future.

    • August 27, 2013 12:50 pm

      Thanks for comments. Libraries are at the forefront of technology and are using it more and more to help their members with research. Many, like ours, have computer sections with free wi-fi. We also lend e-books at a fast increasing rate.

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