Knight News Challenge: Libraries offers applicants a chance to share in $2.5 million by focusing on the question, “How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?” Below, Anthony Marx, president and CEO of the New York Public Library, a previous winner of the News Challenge, writes about the evolving role of libraries. Photo: Kids using digital media aboard the NYPL's Digital Bookmobile, via Flickr.
Libraries are the community learning spaces and hubs of civil society. They continue to be where more Americans go more than anywhere else, to read, to think, to write and to create. The bottom third of society depend upon their libraries for books, computers, quiet and expertise, and libraries have never been used more.
The digital age seems to have only increased the appetite for such civic learning space, and in the information age nothing could be more powerful than bringing together access to all the world’s ideas and images together with the full diversity of the populace’s talent. The library is that place. In New York, the public libraries receive 40 million physical visits per year, more than all the museums and professional sporting teams combined.