The library of your near future will have more digital books, more meeting spaces and a bigger role in promoting literacy in both books and technology.

"In the old days, you thought about a library as a place to go and get a book," said Tom Ward, Pima County Public Library board president.

"Now you think of it as a place to learn to read, to learn to use the Internet and to use the Internet to get books to read. It comes full circle."

The library's new four-year strategic plan paints a picture of how libraries are changing.

Library leaders will seek approval for the plan from the county Board of Supervisors today.

Here are three ways your library is changing.

1. More digital books

Now: Library patrons checked out close to 160,000 e-books and audiobooks last fiscal year, said Jen Maney, virtual library manager. About 29 percent were downloaded for Kindles, electronic reading devices.

Next: The library expects the number of digital book downloads will triple over the next four years.

He said it: "Our expenditure on digital books will be 15 percent of the total collection budget (by 2016), and that's a major commitment." - Ward

2. More meeting spaces

Now: Libraries already are home to a variety of active clubs, from knitting circles to Lego robotics teams to job-seeker groups.

Next: As people use digital books more, paper books will take up less space. Libraries plan to use that extra room in each branch library for meeting places.

Plus, the library plans to have four regional "create spaces" by 2016, which could include resources like 3-D printers for modeling and computers with programs for editing photos, videos and music.

She said it: "A person could come in and take a class, or use the equipment on their own. It will really lend itself well to people who want to self-publish or have a creative Web presence, like video webcasting or podcasting." - Gina Macaluso, library services manager and planning co-chair

3. More kids reading well

Now: About 74 percent of Pima County third-graders passed the AIMS reading test in spring 2012.

Next: By 2016, all branches will host annual family literacy events aimed at helping kids read at grade level by third grade.

She said it: "At family read-aloud nights, families come together: They share a meal; they share a story, and we'll have a humanities scholar come in to talk about what the story was about. ... It creates that lifelong love of reading, which is what we're really trying to get to." - Amber Mathewson, library services manager and planning co-chair

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.