As the Internet continues to cause mayhem for the publishing industries, it appears reasonable that libraries would be all but forgotten by people who can access the information and literature that they want with a computer. However studies indicate that 67% of tech-savvy 16 to 29 year olds are using libraries regularly. Although not borrowing as many books as they once did, they are still relying on the library to keep its doors open.
The Annoyed Librarian’s blog post “The library’s ending again”, states that the internet has superseded the reputation of libraries as a repository for knowledge. Digital resources provide access to endless masses of information, virtually untethered to tangible repositories, and digital distribution has superseded the function of a library as a central hub for books.
Ryan Perry’s blog post “The End of Libraries? Not so Fast, MG Siegler”, feels that the library full of shelves of books is a nostalgic vision of a place that no longer seems relevant and that that sort of library has been slowly receding for quite some time, as computers and online resources have superseded physical volumes. He states that rather than ending libraries, the internet makes many new services possible. Libraries increasingly offer technology support and training to an inclusive community and their computers are well used by the community.
Eli Neiburger of the Ann Arbor District Library believes that libraries should be changing their focus to assist content creators earn a better living from their writing and states that “the future of libraries will be determined by what they make, not what they buy”.
Art Brodsky on the position of libraries in the age of digital books writes:
“Imagine walking into a library or bookstore and needing three or four pairs of different glasses to read different books manufactured to specific viewing equipment. Or buying a book and then having to arbitrarily destroy it after say, two weeks. That’s just nuts. But it’s the current situation we’re in with ebooks.” He is implying that Google, Amazon, Apple and others now have their own e-book stores which sell items only compatible on particular devices or within certain applications.
Spaces currently known as libraries may live on as cultural and learning centres. Libraries may co-locate the physical space with tourism, consumer and community advice centres, adult learning or museums. Others may live on as technology hubs such as BiblioTech Bexar County Digital Library (the first bookless library), makerspaces and fablabs with equipment including tablets, Kindles, Nooks, 3D printers, and laser and vinyl cutters.
The library of the future will be different. What do you think? Will increased access to information be the demise of libraries? Do libraries have a future? If so, what will it look like? If not, what will be their end? Be a part of the conversation in the comment section below.