It’s not only the availability of pre-loaded e-readers that marks twenty-first century libraries. In and around Baltimore, the venerated cultural institution is undergoing an extreme makeover.

Amid the disorienting and relentless telecommunication revolution, the lending library reflect an downright quaint system of data storage and retrieval. When you can store thousands of books’ worth of text on a single computer harddrive, what’s a library for?

Libraries across Maryland are finding solutions that both embrace the tech revolution and fend off its most insidious side effect, isolation, by redefining the library’s role as a community gathering place.

According to The Sun, Ellicott City’s new library comes with a 3,000 square-foot meeting room, and Enoch Pratt’s Southeast Anchor Branch in Baltimore City is getting a café. In addition, several libraries are outfitting wi-fi stations with more electrical outlets and desk space to accommodate patrons’ notebook computers.

Though I lament the slow, painful death of the book, it’s inspiring to see the state’s libraries adapting to survive in the modern world and realizing that education, art, and community transcend technology.