The future of libraries, with or without books


"The stereotypical library is dying -- and it's taking its shushing ladies, dank smell and endless shelves of books with it.

Books are being pushed aside for digital learning centers and gaming areas. "Loud rooms" that promote public discourse and group projects are taking over the bookish quiet. Hipster staffers who blog, chat on Twitter and care little about the Dewey Decimal System are edging out old-school librarians.

And that's just the surface. By some accounts, the library system is undergoing a complete transformation that goes far beyond these image changes."

I'm not sure if I agree with "pushed aside", but it is nice to see so many forward thinking libraries include in this article. Indeed, we are more then just books!


Anonymous said...

A library is not a community gathering center. We have meeting places for community gatherings and we built libraries for books
because people want to read books, value books, and value the life of the mind.
Google Books has limited fulltext--is not a replacement for books.
The majority is not rushing out and
buying kindles.
But the barbarians are truly at the gates. I speak for the majority and I speak for many librarians. There is no replacement for the book, and
the promotion of illiteracy will
serve no one.

andrew said...

I would disagree about the assertion that fewer physical books ties us to becoming illiterate. In fact, if you consider all of the text based communication methods that people use today (particularly young people) you would have to think that we are becoming hyper-literate.

I mean, growing up pre-social web, how many of your friends (or perhaps yourself) went for weeks on end during summer vacation from school not writing anything, and perhaps hardly reading anything either. These days you'd be hard pressed to get a teenager (or tween) to stop reading stories, news, etc. online (or on their mobile) and then typing responses back for more than a few hours.

While the literacy may be different it is still literacy and I think the energy behind it is electrifying (pun intended).

Anonymous said...

Andrew, Do you really think teens are reading anything on their phones besides each other's badly written texts, song titles from the apple store, friend updates from their secret facebook accounts and video game cheat codes? I guess its the old Goosebumps argument, eh? At least they're reading! And maybe someday they will read a REAL BOOK.

Anonymous said...

Exactly-- how can you compare
being able to read text through
"text based communication
being truly literate?
Promote Libraries for
Dummies--then where do the
people go who read, read well,
and want a real library.
To the local playground?

Morgane Le Fay said...

Well it does seem like some of our colleagues still have the old-fashioned notion that only a PRINTED book is a REAL book, that only bound pages and endless words are relevant information. I do hope that my generation of “info-professionals” will drive that idea away. We select, acquire and provide information, we are not here to judge it's value.

Cat Herself said...

Congrats on being quoted, HB!

I still maintain that printed books are not going to completely disappear until there is a reasonably priced product that is a reasonable, highly functional replica of the reading experience. I do believe I see kids reading more now that we have social media . . . just like it felt like kids were reading less when all they did all day was watch TV.

As for the Dewey Decimal System . . . I wouldn't say I don't care about it (I still like it better than LC for public libraries), but it's really just a convenient system for organizing information. Until we come up with (again) a reasonable replacement, Dewey is Da Man!

Gwen a digital librarian said...

Digital libraries and archives are a long time in the making. I'm excited about the current prospects for global information exchange. Please see an early report (2003) on digital libraries built with open source software (Greenstone digital library software) :

Anonymous said...

Books don't have endless words. They are a finite and complete story or description, unlike the internet which truly has endless words, most of which, are meaningless drivel.

Batarang said...

"Meaningless drivel"

How Twitter Works In Theory

Books are just compartments...just like each website is a "compartment" for information.