The Future of Libraries

As someone who is a grad student in library science, I’m obviously concerned about the future of libraries, especially in what’s become an overwhelmingly digital age. Along those lines, Dr. Albert Mohler has another interesting post on his blog today called The Citadel and the Open Space – Will Libraries Survive in the Internet Age ? In it, Dr. Mohler cites an upcoming article by Robert Darnton in The New York Review of Books. There’s discussion about how many students are under the impression that everything can be found on the internet, and the reasons for actually making the trip to a physical library building are getting fewer. Dr. Mohler is aware of the role that digitization of books by Google and other materials such as journals and magazines have on research today, but he’s clearly a fan of the printed book:

*** Dr. Mohler – “The future will be digital (or whatever replaces digital media), but the future will also need the library. The library will remain as a citadel, where books need no batteries and reading requires no Bluetooth or wireless technology. The spirit of scholarship will always be most at home among books, and the soul committed to learning will always find nourishment in the library.”

So with that in mind, I’d like to hear your take on this…

1) How often do you use your local library ? Do you primarily buy your books or do you borrow more from the library ?

2) What do you think of digital readers like Amazon’s Kindle, that allow you to store many books on a device and read them electronically ?

3) Do you think libraries should have more of a bookstore feel to them and offer food and drinks, to compete with the Borders and Barnes & Nobles ?

As a library science student, I’d love to hear your views on this !

5 thoughts on “The Future of Libraries

  1. mindserased

    1. I use my library all the time. Every week. I am an insatiable reader, and since I am also a very frugal person, I love being able to read all these great books that I don’t have to shell out money for.

    2. I’ve never laid my hands on a Kindle, nor does the Kindle interest me. For me, nothing can replace the tactile experience of holding a book in my hands. Call me old-fashioned, I guess.

    3. I think that libraries should design themselves around how they can best serve the communities in which they are based. If that means serving free coffee (as my local library does) then so be it. Get people in the door, get them looking around, get them to come back for more. I think it’s unfortunate that libraries have to dress up like their local bookstore, but there you are. It’s a fiercely competitive, dog-eat-dog world.

    Good luck with your degree.

  2. wingfiea

    I don’t necessarily use the library right now, but the library in my neighborhood has limited books to choose from. I agree with Dr. Mohler, but I’m also someone who doesn’t like reading things on a computer screen (except blogs). I’d much rather have books, articles, and essays printed out and in my hands…not electronically. I will be a long time supporter of printed materials in a library, whether public or from my own personal library.

    P.S. Thanks for the comment and the encouraging words about my blogs. My readership has declined greatly since coming to wordpress. I like that it has (it keeps me honest and real), but it’s also good to know that those who are reading are still encouraged by what they find on my site. 🙂

  3. ~M

    1. I don’t even know where the closest library to me is. I love books, but I am an active reader — I dog ear the books, underline, highlight, write notes, etc.
    Therefore, I like to buy my books, vary rarely do I borrow them.

    2. So far I don’t have an opinion.

    3. Never thought about it — I don’t frequent bookstores either. Usually Amazon or Ebay.

    Another thought — you might enjoy listening to Mohler’s Q&A at New Attitude.

  4. Chris

    1. I actually really like going to the local library… there’s a lot of books I want to read but just don’t find a lot of time. My kids love going there too and we don’t go often enough. We were on a track to go every 2 wks, but haven’t lately. We’ll see over the summer if that changes since there will be more time with the kids.

    I don’t generally buy books, more borrow them (from library / friends). I have a whole slew of books from a friend that he let me have with the intent for me to pass them on when I’m done (all C.S. Lewis).

    2. never used one but I know an author who tells me interesting things bout them…

    3. no I like them the way they are now…

  5. amyletinsky

    Awesome questions for book nuts like me.

    1. I use my library several times a week, either in the online version or walking to it to pick up things that have arrived for me or to drop up things that are due. I’m what you’d call a “frequent user.” Plus, I’m a member of a book club that meets there monthly, so it’s a social hub for me.

    There’s lots of online resources I use that constitute my library usage at home: e-books, journals, foreign language training, and search tools.

    2. I like the idea of a Kindle like device, just don’t think it’s quite at the level where it’s accessible to enough people to make it viable. The thing is way too expensive and the proprietary format makes a lot of free e-books inaccessible (from what I’ve gathered). Also, not a lot of books are available yet (comparatively). Plus, on the beach, a digital screen has way too much glare. I like to take notes and need a book that lets me write in it, and the ebooks don’t let you do that yet.

    On the plus side, this is great for people who travel a lot, people who live in small dwelling places with not a lot of room for book storage, and for people who live overseas and don’t have access to english reading material (a problem some of my friends have).

    3. on the library vs barnes and noble side of things, I certainly think food should be allowed in the library. Ours started it, with coffee and food vending machines, and people really are loving it. The free wi-fi adds to it. It’s a place I love to go to hang out and read for fun or do some writing. I like to see the teenagers hanging out there instead of the grocery store parking lot (their other place in town to hang out).

    If libraries are to be a gathering place as a goal, they should accommodate people in gathering. If they’re just a place to go and grab books and leave, they should facilitate that efficiently, and that’s it.

    Honestly, when we move, I’m going to push to stay as close to my library as possible because it’s such a great place to walk to and hang out. I think libraries should strive to be like that.

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