Dusty libraries filled to the brim with ancient tomes are a thing of the past. In a digital age, today’s libraries are adapting to be relevant to modern society.

In the UK, this digital library revolution is being led by the biggest of the lot, the British Library.

The skinny on “book lending”

Late last year, they launched a unique ‘Human Lending Library’ to allow social enterprises to borrow skills and advice from experts.

Social enterprises are businesses which use the money made to tackle social problems, support communities and help the environment.

The British Library launched the campaign with Expert Impact to allow social entrepreneurs to have a one hour mentoring session from experts. The trial is expected to be the first in a series of global ‘Human Lending Library’ franchises set to open.

Across the rest of the UK Arts Council funding has allowed 22 public libraries to come together to form the Living Knowledge Network.

The Network, including the national libraries of Scotland and Wales, brings knowledge to life in libraries in a range of formats, such as simultaneous events. The current Network exhibition focuses on writing.

Engaging exhibitions

From hieroglyphs to emojis, the Writing: Making Your Mark experience spans five millennia and five continents to examine writing and its future in the digital age. A live stream event from the Hay literature festival on 25 May marks the high point of the exhibition.

Since The Living Knowledge Network’s pilot over 1 million people have engaged with its exhibitions, events and live screenings.

But it’s not just the big libraries that have been adapting. Even small branch libraries are joining in. In Richmond, on the outskirts of London, residents can now hire e-books, Naxos music streams and eMagazines.