Unless libraries can tailor everything that they do and stand for towards the digital universe, their days as a wellspring of knowledge and information are numbered. After reading an article titled, “The Impatience of the Google Generation” in wich the author and the responses essentially come to the conclusion that the current generation and younger generations for that matter, are essentially impatient when it comes to how quickly they can find and receive information, I can only assume that the last place that they would want to go is a place where their information was in a hard bound book!
OK, so yes libraries have computers that are tied not only to their volumes of hardbound books but also to search as it relates to the internet. But riddle me this: Why would I go to a library and search for a book when I could log onto a computer and find the same information? Says the 18-24 old student. I know it’s deeper than that, but lets put ourselves in the place of someone in college or younger. A) every college student, or a good portion of them now have their own laptop. So now they “walk” around with access to any and all information/research that they will ever need. Bogus wikis notwithstanding. and B) They are so accustomed to getting information readily, that going to a library defeats the purpose of library research per se.
Of course, they can still go to the “quiet” library to get work done. And there are still certain things that a library provides or possesses that a student still might need or utilize, but…the thinking is,”It’s all here on the internet”!
Generation “C” (content) has no use for a library. In fact I would venture to guess that funding on local, state and federal levels for libraries is constantly slashed in favor of more digital type programs or programs that lawmakers feel have more importance.
Having said that, here is one more thing for you to chew on. The Amazon Kindle is an electronic book device launched in the US by Amazon.com this past November. It uses an electronic paper display, reads the proprietary Kindle (AZW) format, and downloads content over Amazon Whispernet, which uses the Sprint EVDO network. This means that the Kindle can be used without the need for a computer. Whispernet is accessible through Kindle without any fee. On the release day, the Kindle Store had more than 88,000 digital titles available for download. Amazon’s first offering of the Kindle sold out in five and a half hours. It retails for $399.
Think about it. People still want to read but they want it condensed and more than just portable. So does this mean that the Dust jacket will go the way of the Jewel Case and album art? If the latest advances in media, music and entertainment are any indication, it appears that that will be the case.
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Have you ever looked at your library’s website? I’m guessing there are a lot of resources available online that give better information than
Google. Many libraries also offer downloadable audio books and movies and music. They have a huge online presence and are way more than books on a shelf. Although they have that too.
Until information is free to all, or everyone has a lot more disposable income than today, libraries will still make sense as purchasing co-ops. I agree with the earlier poster– you need to look at the online content available through most libraries. Many libraries spend more to provide access to online resources than they spend on print materials these days.
Next, there’s a significant teaching function in libraries– people often have only a superficial understanding of online searching techniques, or how to evaluate sites for reliability or bias. Libraries have a role here as well.
Most librarians are working hard to move into the digital realm. I’d say that any report of the death of libraries is exaggerated.
It’s worth saying one more time, because the real problem here is with inadequate library marketing/branding. Most libraries are steadily replacing their print copies of reference works with proprietary databases that library users can access from anywhere for free via the library’s web site. Three AM and you need some market share information? Science project information? A literary criticism article for (tomorrow’s) term paper? No problem. Go to your library’s website, and chances are you’ll find a product there that can provide it for you. Online. At three AM. For free.
Many libraries are also providing free downloadable movies that you “check out.” Instead of having to go to the library to borrow & return a DVD, you just download it & it stops working when the checkout period expires. Just like Amazon, Netflix, and now Apple want you to do…only there is no up front cost to you. Everyone’s taxes already paid for it all.
According to an article in librarian professional literature, there is already a library system circulating Kindles. (Sparta PL in NJ.) Does that really sound like the act of a dying institution? If people aren’t satisfied with the resources of their public library, they need to go to the library’s administration and let them know what they want. They’ll also want to go to the political body that funds the library and demand funding for what you want to see @ your library. Librarians ask for funding for things, but often if the public isn’t saying they want it too, government just spends the money someplace else instead.
Good night & good luck! 🙂
I’m from the Sparta Library and we are NOT a dying institution, that’s for sure! We are the hub of a growing and changing community, and we purchased the Kindles in response to our tech-savvy patrons’ demands for the best we can get them. The Kindles have had a great reception and are always in circulation.
We support the notion that if your library’s not giving you what you want and need, tell someone who can fix that. Talk to the director who should realize that it’s your money that’s being used! You are the one for whom we build the collection; of course you should have a voice. Don’t be hesitant! We’re in business for YOU!
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