[dropcap size=small]W[/dropcap]ith the ubiquity of the Internet and the ease of buying or downloading books online, library memberships are becoming a thing of the past. Who can blame the public, really, when the traditional library calls to mind dusty books and claustrophobic aisles flooded in fluorescent light?

However, it’s precisely society’s Web dependence and the way this distracts us from interpersonal relationships that has pressed home the need for libraries as a communal space. The raison d’etre remains to provide free access to information, whether via computers or through physical books. But today, libraries have to provide modern and relevant platforms for young people to pursue their interests too – even if this isn’t reading. As civic spaces, they draw people together, encouraging inclusivity and togetherness, values that deserve much promulgation in the 21st century.

Using design, the following four libraries have been transformed from mere book depositories into sexy new spaces. They have revitalised neighbourhoods, increased visitor numbers and burnished the reputation of their home cities. Some people aren’t thrilled – they’re the ones who like reading in quiet libraries – but, then again, they’re in the minority these days.

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