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The future of libraries

More reading tools shift to online model at local libraries

The future of libraries

HOLMEN, Wis. (WKBT) - As technology progresses, and more and more reading tools shift to an online model, libraries continue to see a decreasing book circulation – but doesn't mean they're facing a drop in demand.

"They're not just there to check out books to people - they're community builders, and they're great equalizers, as well," says Catherine Lavallee-Welch, director of UW-La Crosse's Murphy Library. 

Instead of going to a library to check out a book, more and more people see their city library as a community gathering space where neighbors can meet and learn together. Holmen's library says its seen more than 400 students take part in summer programs this year.

"It's more than books," says Deen Layland of the Holmen Public Library. "It's the programming. It's the social part of it. It's the computers. It's the online help."

It's also a public access point for the Internet - something that not everyone has at home.

"About 75 percent of the communities in this country, the only free access to the internet is through the public library," Lavallee-Welch said. "There's this conception that everybody has a computer at home and everybody has a tablet and everybody has a smart phone, but that's not the case."

Demand isn't dying - in Holmen, it's so strong that residents have called for a bigger library, to house more hardcovers, but also to house more space for community learning.

"It's not just about the books anymore. Not at all," Lavallee-Welch said.

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