The Boston Public Library, founded in 1848, is breaking out of its granite shell, reports the Times, to become a more open and welcoming space, with a retail area, new teens section and a high-stool bar for laptop users. 

Libraries are changing across the country, with increases in both physical and virtual visits, some of that down to the recession and the availability of new technology, but a lot as the result of libraries re-imagining themselves as creative spaces. 

More open spaces, room for collaborative working, the introduction of 'maker spaces' and innovations such as lending out plots of land to learn organic growing techniques, are all part of a mix that is changing the shape, role and impact of libraries in their communities. 

Wizard, genius, explorer

Librarian Pam Sandlian Smith talks at TEDx about the new role of the librarian as wizard, genius and explorer in this changing environment for community-based knowledge creation. 

'Libraries are places where you can create and collaborate. We have tools to share, like a 3D printer. You can learn how to do digital photography, or you can make a video in our studio. Libraries are about learning, but also about how people can learn from each other.' And planting and working together on urban gardens is just one of the many striking developments she explores.