Full text: Libraries for a Smarter Economy

Appears in September 22, 2015 editions of both the Sussex Herald and King's County Record.


Today’s libraries are more than books. They lend tools, kitchen equipment, green screens, recording studios, professional creative software, and technical production spaces. This new wave of libraries articulates how libraries were never about books; they were about sharing. The sharing economy reduces consumer waste and removes barriers from tools and technologies that create culture and prosperity.

Tool lending can be a meaningful part of resuscitating the cultural value of trades, saving on energy costs, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Inefficient heating and cooling of Canadian buildings results in significant economic and environmental costs. Tool libraries provide the physical tools and skills necessary to make DIY energy-saving projects common practice.

Incorporating garden tools and kitchen equipment into libraries helps connect people to their food. This relationship is untended by many in Canada, where 37% of adults measure as overweight and 25% as obese. Fast and cheap foods are rarely nutritionally dense, so making gardening and home cooking accessible and culturally relevant is a meaningful way to address root causes of our obesity crisis.

As automation forebodes the elimination of low skill labour, creative and service sectors gain importance economically. Libraries can stimulate competitive creative economies in both rural and urban communities. Communalizing means of cultural, digital, and physical production allows communities to realize the full potential of their members.

Modernized libraries can also tap into the corporate sharing economy to guarantee their financial sustainability. Shared office spaces are an urban trend that allow businesses and self-employed individuals to save on rent and network with cognate enterprises. Combining profitable shared office spaces with libraries would benefit the tenants by placing them in proximity to creative and technical lending services. The arrangement serves the public by using membership and rental fees to maintain the library's services.

Let's invest in New Brunswick's libraries for a smarter economy.
Check out some great library innovations in Canada
Ottawa's Imagine Space
Vancouver's Inspiration Lab
Toronto's Makerspace
Tool Libraries in Halifax, Toronto (3), Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal, Cornwall, Hamilton, London,