The library is out of date
The library is out of date?
The days of browsing around the shelves of your favourite library are numbered. Going is the leisurely wander among those parcels of delight, those books that enchant us. Just to pick up a interesting looking book, hold it and browse through it will one day be a thing one seldom does, if ever.
Nowadays the world is so busy that finding time for that luxurious pleasure is dwindling as are many of the pleasures that have delighted us through time. Many of us will miss browsing in a library but time presses.
Will our comforting bookshelves with their precious cargo in our lounge and study become items that no lomger find a place in our home? Reading in front of a fire, relaxing in bed with a book, reading in the bath, sunbathing with a deck chair and a book - will all those pleasures no longer find a place in our lives.
The Amazon Kindle
Not really. Technology has come to the rescue of our time pressures.
Now it is a gadget that captures our attention, some call a pretend book. That pretend book can hold thousands of physical books!
Perhaps does not have the feel of a paper book, but far more convenient. We can still read it in front of the fire or on the beach. If we are on holiday it reduces the luggage weight and we have far more books to read!
Today it is the ebook that is king. Modern technology gives us a library in a gadget. We can find ebooks in any genre we want in fiction or non fiction. Download the ebook and enjoy. Not even very expensive in many cases. Hours and hours of reading in the bus, train, on the beach, in bed or wherever!
Libraries such as The British Library, The Bodleian, the Boston Public Library and many other famous libraries all have their own status, ambience and aims and objectives. They have an important job to do and will survive in their own right. They do not need to change as such, they just need to add technology to the mix.Which they have or will.
Their collections of old books, academic books, old manuscripts and other significant material will remain essential to the world. Priceless.
So where does this leave the local library?
Local Libraries are having to modernise of course. Long ago they stocked cassettes, CD's DVD's, now they must stock ebooks. It will be user driven. If you do not use it, you will lose it. Or is a different library that users want?
What are local libraries doing?
Many local libraries run courses in technology for their community and they are well used.
They have banks of computers linked to the internet that can be used by the public. People can check their emails, surf etc. Many libraries give access to their own residents first, but not all.
Larger libraries subscribe to genealogical databases like Ancestry.com and Find My Past. Genealogy is one of the fastest growing hobbies and frequently one must book one of the computers dedicated to these databases!!!! A very popular idea.
Old newspapers are fascinating and with their continuing digitization this is another attraction.
In the short term
For the time being there are likely to be small libraries that will close. There may be larger ones created to replace several smaller ones. Centralisation of all the collections and the technology
If libraries attract people with technology convenience they will come.
In the longer term
Libraries will remain, there will be less of them. but they will be what the public want.
Books are still very popular. In fact people are coming back to libraries in droves.
All those old tomes will still be housed in libraries. Digitization of books will continue for many years. Not all will be digitized.
Technology will continue to advance and libraries will change, but they will not be replaced.
As our increased interest in ebooks becomes entrenched will our real books become rarer? Will publication be first in ebook and then the physical book? Will what follows be that the beloved book will no longer be published? Will our existing precious books become collectors items?