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Twenty years ago, libraries were designed to be little more than warehouses for books.
Nowadays, they are being designed to be the social, intellectual and meeting hubs of colleges or local communities.
What has caused the change?
Computer technology, of all things. So often disparaged for alienating and isolating people, the computer is bringing people together at the local library.
"Libraries used to be places where you went to look up a book," said J. Stewart Roberts, an architect in Somerville, Mass., whose firm, J. Stewart Roberts Associates Inc., specializes in library design.
"Now you can do that online at home. So libraries are becoming a place where people go to browse. There's more emphasis being placed on …