YLibrary will be different

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The Annoyed Librarian’s blog post “The library’s ending again”, states that the internet has superseded the reputation of libraries as a repository for knowledge.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access to endless masses of information, virtually untethered to tangible repositories, and digital distribution has superseded the function of a library as a central hub for books.

Interior view of Stockholm Public Library

Interior view of Stockholm Public Library

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and that that sort of library has been slowly receding for quite some time, as computers and online resources have superseded physical volumes.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.

Library of Birmingham

Library of Birmingham

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.

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2 comments

  1. The library of the future will be different, but still be recognisable as the library of today. With our climate changing, we have seen an uprise of stronger cyclones, and we break the temperature records each year. Our climate plays havoc with our infrastructure. Internet, telephone and loss of power-supply are regularly recurring events, especially in rural remote locations. As we will never be able to solely rely on electronics, we will never solely offer electronic services. Not only library staff need to be kept up to date, so do the libraries’ patrons. There is an increasing need to offer regular workshops, run for and by librarians and their patrons, on the latest fads, to keep library patrons using the libraries and its services.

    • Thanks Karien, you make some very valid points. A significant proportion of Queensland’s population lives in regional, rural and remote areas. Although there has been an increase in the percentage of people in these locations who have access to computers at home and the percentage of people with access to the Internet has more than doubled since 1998, internet use has yet to reach the level of use in capital cities.

      With their existing infrastructure, committed staff, and mission to connect individuals to information, libraries are uniquely suited to offering public Internet access and training to people who would otherwise be left behind in the digital world. By reinventing themselves and embracing an expanded role as online information centers, the impact on individuals and communities could be significant.

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