With the rapid changes happening in the literary world, everyone is scrambling to keep up. Libraries, as a public service, want to remain relevant in an increasingly digital age. According to the American Library Association, many libraries offer services such as digital literacy training and assistance with the usage of online government programs.
However, some libraries are thinking a little more out-of-the-box. The La Jolla branch of the San Diego public library has started the first biotech laboratory in a library, called Life Science Collaboratory.
According to the La Jolla branch website, “Qualified volunteers from local biotechnology firms, research institutions and DIY bio-enthusiasts are supplying programs to educate the public about the Life Sciences and encourage civic debate and interest in this revolutionary field.”
This program is part of the library’s Innovation Space, a program that includes 3D-printers, centrifuges, and a DNA analyzing and sequencing tool.
One need not be afraid of picking up any pathogens either. The lab is only a level 1 Biosafety lab, and according to library manager Shaun Briley on The Washington Post’s website, “The chemicals in the cleaning closet are more dangerous.”
Additionally, the lab is only in use when a qualified volunteer is present.
Briley hopes that other libraries will follow this example, not necessarily in Biotech, but in whatever fields happen to be of interest in their local area. “Every community has some focus, something they do in particular, and here it just happens to be biotech,” he said.
The statement the La Jolla branch makes on their site is that, “An enduring tenet of libraries is that an informed public with free and open access to information is a cornerstone of democracy. Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning, be technology facilitators and guides to the future.”
We can safely assume they are doing just that.