Friday, September 4, 2009

The future of libraries

I'm not sure whether to be sad or excited by this article in CNN on the future of libraries.  I don't like the idea that "physical books will play a much-diminished or potentially nonexistent role", and video gaming tournaments at libraries kind of make me cringe.  But this description made me laugh:

"A rise in a young, library-chic subculture on blogs and on Twitter is putting a new face on this changing role, said Linda C. Smith, president of the Association for Library and Information Science Education.

Some wear tattoos, piercings and dress like they belong on the streets of Brooklyn instead of behind bookshelves."

It is true that libraries are much different than when I was younger.  I doubt our son will ever need to use a card catalog, nor will he bother reference librarians with scavenger hunt questions about presidents, etc. that google can answer in 3 seconds.  Will he ever need to use the microfiche machine?  We thought those things were state-of-the-art.  On the other hand, a library is still, for us, a place for books.  To pull them off the shelves, turn the pages, roam the stacks eyeing the bindings, and walk around inhaling the book smell...  I can't imagine that changing.  Or at least, I don't want to.


Christy said...

We can only imagine what the future of libraries will be. I love the smell of books and I like to snuggle in bed with an actual book. I also prefer to read my news in a newspaper. I guess I'm old.

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

Oh, I can't imagine a library without books! But I love that going to the library is such a big trend now. Who knew we would be so cool?? ;-)

MaryAnne said...

I can't imagine technology really replacing physical books. I'm all for technology, but there are times when I just want to be able to sit and look at something that is printed on paper. I've never seen a Kindle, which is supposed to come the closest to a physical book, but I suspect that even reading a book on one of those doesn't replicate the experience of flipping through physical pages.

I actually dislike the smell of books (too many hours shelving dusty library books as a college student?), but I definitely think there is a benefit to brousing shelves - you find things you would never find through a catalog search.

Green Mamma said...

I've heard that it would be impossible to do today what Ben Franklin did centuries ago when he started the first libraries; reason being: less money for book publishers . . . it saddens me to think that old fashioned paper and binding could become replaced by all things digital; isn't it good for our children's minds, imagination, and creativity to simply page through books? Ugh, I cannot stand video games and tournaments. Yuck. Oh, and my computer engineer husband happens to agree with me that technology need not play such the role that public schools, etc. are making it for our youngest of children.

Dewey Dot said...

i'll out myself at the beginning of my comment ... i'm a librarian. i graduated in 1997, at the very moment that libraries were starting to consider internet access for the public as a service. i was, perhaps, the first generation of graduates instructed in internet searching, or what it was in that pre-google world.

over the history of the library, it's goal has been to make the newest information accessible. there was a time when people thought that the paperback book (the newest technology of the time) didn't belong in the library. i have worked with librarians who felt that the computers should be outside on the sidewalk (NOT in the library.) when videos (and then DVDs) first appeared on the scene there were protests from staff about how we were not BlockBuster. now libraries have video games, laptop lending, and i'm sure it's only a matter of time before they get Kindles in to borrow.

books will always play a role as long as the public wants them. there will always be archives and big research libraries that have them, but the smaller community based libraries might not.

i find the local history comment very interesting. i worked at a library that was the sole owner of the entire historical collection of the local newspaper. and their staff were, page by page, indexing the articles to make them available to the public.

libraries are whatever their community wants them to be. and that's their beauty.

Infant Bibliophile said...

Thank you for all of the thoughtful comments. "libraries are whatever their community wants them to be. and that's their beauty." -- yes, I guess that is true, and very well said. I also agree with Green Mama that it is "good for our children's minds, imagination, and creativity to simply page through books," so I'll just have to hope the rest of the community continues to agree with me. At least, until I'm old and grey(er) and my eyes give out anyway.