What’s going on:
Public libraries in the U.S. are evolving into dynamic coworking spaces, attracting a diverse range of digital and hybrid professionals from small-business owners to programmers and nonprofit workers, according to The Washington Post.
Libraries offer resources such as free internet, printer access, private meeting rooms, and even cafes and rooftop spaces for a more relaxed work atmosphere. This transformation in library spaces has reportedly contributed to library usage moving closer to pre-pandemic levels, with in-person visits to urban public libraries rising to over 50% of 2019 levels in 2022, according to the Urban Libraries Council.
Why it matters:
Many experts believe that remote work, which gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, is here to stay. Larger U.S. businesses are updating their return to office policies (RTO) and adapting hybrid work environments. More libraries across the country are catering to remote and hybrid workers. The Washington Post reports that libraries will continue to record increases in in-person visits, with the Urban Libraries Council expecting that number to rise even higher in 2023.
How it’ll impact the future:
An increasing number of libraries are resembling coworking spaces in that they provide a cost-effective, resource-rich environment for remote and hybrid workers. Libraries reportedly provide an ideal “third place” for remote workers, offering a location between an individual’s work and home that also allows networking and collaborative opportunities, according to The Washington Post. This trend shows how libraries have become an attractive alternative to traditional office spaces and even to home offices, and the Urban Libraries Council believes that trend will continue this year.