As we discussed ideas for our library’s future at a department meeting last week, someone brought up the decline of desktop computers as tablets and smartphones take their place. While I’d come up with ways to incorporate mobile devices into more of our services and programs, I hadn’t considered actually getting rid of the desktop computers we have now. They are our biggest draw — most people who come to the library come not for the books, DVDs, or audiobooks, but for the computers. I have trouble picturing anything else in that space.
However, swapping stationary desks and computers for mobile tablets could allow for increased flexibility. Not only would it open up that space for other uses, but patrons could take the devices to other parts of the library. Students working on group projects could take tablets to a study room so they could collaborate without disturbing other patrons. Parents with young children could bring a mobile device up to the Children’s Department to apply for jobs or complete school assignments while their kids look at picture books. And the once-inflexible lab space could be carved into smaller meeting rooms for individuals or study groups — something we always seem to need more of at our library.
Of course, we’re not dumping our desktops tomorrow. But a few years from now, as technology continues to become more mobile, our spaces and services need to change to reflect this mobility. Do you think I’m getting ahead of myself? Do you want to make a case for the desktop computer?