The future of libraries

Hamilton Public Library

Ontario’s libraries are about more than just books. With ORION’s help, they’re transforming into creative community hubs wired for the digital world.

 

The Hamilton Public Library (HPL) is more than a traditional library. That much becomes clear when you begin to explore the Central Branch. If you head upstairs, all the way up to the fourth floor, past the books and the study carrels, you’ll find yourself in the space called The Circuit 4.0. We call it “the future of libraries.”

The Circuit 4.0 has transformed the fourth floor into a vibrant scene of digital creativity and learning. Here, you might find customers attending a workshop on how to use a 3D printer or a local band recording their latest song. Filmmakers can use HD cameras, a green screen and editing software to make a movie. Others might attend a session on how to use computer programs like Microsoft Office, or spend a day learning about electronics, coding and logic.

“The Library is a hub for creative engagement,” the HPL’s Director of Digital Technology & Creations, Sherry Fahim, explains. “And we use the ORION network as our backbone. Having access to fast, reliable broadband enables the creativity.”

The ORION network gives the Library the quality connection it needs to provide the people of Hamilton access to the latest digital technologies — all without fear of bottlenecks, no matter how busy the Library gets.

You can see the impact it has not only in the innovative ways individual customers use the space, but also in the Library’s partnerships with other organizations including Mohawk College. Mohawk City School facilitates alternative training equivalent to college credits — offered free of charge at HPL thanks to support from the Ontario government.

Mohawk delivers a weekly Digital Photojournalism course at The Circuit 4.0, connecting to HPL’s facilities through the ORION network. “Partnerships like this will play a vital role in the future of libraries,” Fahim explains, “helping to ensure HPL is a place of discovery, creativity and learning for the whole community.”

Recently, the program expanded to offer even more free courses at the Library, which will help level the playing field when it comes to accessing post-secondary education. Troubled youth and adults who might not otherwise pursue a post-secondary education are given the potential for a bright future and a chance to participate and contribute to a diverse Ontario workforce.

Thanks to organizations like HPL and to leaders like Fahim, libraries are becoming more than just places to check out books. And they’re not alone. All over Ontario, spaces that used to be reserved for one primary purpose — like libraries, museums and schools — are being transformed into zones of innovation and collaboration. The provincial government’s ‘community hubs strategy’ seeks to encourage and enable innovation across Ontario. The Circuit 4.0 is a perfect example of what’s possible and how ORION is helping to empower this transformation.

The result is a stronger community and a stronger province. The Library provides equal access to the cutting-edge technologies of the 21st century, allowing anyone in Hamilton to learn, create and collaborate. Thanks to initiatives like The Circuit 4.0, every citizen, no matter who they are, is given the opportunity to contribute to making Ontario a more vibrant and successful province.