Will libraries become a relic of the past when books turn digital? Like in a Dr. Who episode, will there be one vast library that’s a repository for the entire world, the sole remaining place holding dusty shelves? That was a cool couple of episodes with David Tennant starring, by the way. Think about the trees cut down to produce all that paper and where those once living trees might have come from. Anyway, will libraries, with reduced funding as an additional obstacle, still be viable ten years from now?
If you think of the library as a multi-media center, then I believe the answer is yes. Besides books, movies, and music, public libraries offer free classes on a variety of topics, meeting rooms, computer centers, literacy and outreach programs. And did you know you could order digital books from the library to download to your eReader? You can probably research whatever you want by accessing library services online, too.
A recent article in an AARP bulletin for seniors reports about how Queens Library in New York holds a phone-in discussion group twice a week. Participants dial in at the prescribed times and chat about books, recipes, current events topics, history, and more. It’s a great way for people to keep in touch and have human contact when they can’t get about so easily. The library’s mail-in program supplies assisted living facilities and homebound individuals with reading materials, movies, and music. These are great services for people who want to benefit from their local library but don’t have the means to get there.
It appears as though the role of the library in the future is to expand rather than to shrink. So donate your used books to your local library, join the Friends of the Library and support their fund-raisers, and give your librarian a big hug of appreciation for all her efforts.