What the library of the future will look like

“If we can’t shine in this environment, in this economy, shame on us,” says Corinne Hill, the director of library system in Chattanooga, Tenn.—a system that has thoroughly migrated into the current era.

The library of the 21st century still has books, but it also has 3-D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, and spaces for conducting business meetings. It offers computer coding classes. It has advanced video- and audio-production software. All things that might and individual may find too expensive but can still benefit from using.

Last year, the downtown Chattanooga public library cleared out its entire fourth floor—14,000 square feet of former storage space—and opened its floor plan for a community collaboration space. It’s part public workshop, part technology petting zoo. But members of the community can also use the space to work on projects or try to launch a business.