The Role of Libraries in a Time of Rapid Technological and Social Change

Cover photo by Lisa Guernsey of Bel Air Library in Harford County, Md.
March 31, 2020

How We Leverage Libraries as a Resource in the 21st Century and Beyond

As writers and analysts at New America, we seek out innovative approaches to learning, community-building, and healthy use of digital media—and libraries are increasingly emerging as institutions that have a lot to offer on each front. Libraries are no longer just places for borrowing books; they are places for checking out wireless hotspots, sewing machines, fishing poles, and more. They have become new arenas for making and coding, for vlogging and podcasting, for learning new languages, or preparing for job market re-entry. Some innovative libraries and school systems collaborate to wrap school IDs and library cards into one. Other libraries revise policies to better co-align with their community's needs, such as eliminating overdue fines. This growing collection of articles is designed to help tell the story of the evolution of one of society's greatest community institutions.

This special page collects our writing and projects that involve libraries in one place for readers. We’ll update it as new content is published.

This page is laid out in the following three sections:

  1. The latest "News and Features on Libraries"
  2. Deborah Fallows's collective works on libraries, including from her books Our Towns and American Futures
  3. Lisa Guernsey's writings on the changing role of librarians through the lens of Media Mentorship

If you have ideas for new projects or articles, please contact Riker Pasterkiewicz at