August 11, 2010

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?                          Books

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.


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  1. Nancy: I loved your post, because I love libraries That was interesting, about the call-in they have, and the outreach for people in nursing homes. What a nice idea. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great post, Nancy! I like the idea of the purpose of libraries expanding. I hope you’re right on that one! It seems to me that one of the biggest services libraries are providing now is access to the internet for those who don’t already have it. The computer stations at our local libraries are always crowded.

  3. Ditto on the computer stations around here. They are always busy. Our library has computer classes for people at all levels, too. I think it helps the community when they offer their meeting rooms for free without tacking on a high room rental fee. That policy seems to vary widely from place to place, though.

  4. I hope libraries are here to stay…..I enjoy all the many activities that my local library has for people besides just checking out a book. I regularly donate my books to the library.

  5. Thank you for singing the praise of libraries! Won’t it be a shame if they’ve disappeared down the drain in ten years? Think of what libraries are and all they do today: They serve communities because they’re inclusive and local; they’re a gateway to communities for visitors and newcomers; they’re a place where generations can interact and enjoy each other; they give patrons a sense of belonging to a community; they meet the needs of children and the elderly, teens, shut ins, and new parents. And libraries are all about STORY. (Disclaimer: I work at a public library and love it. Can you tell?)

  6. As the world of publishing is in a flux, let’s hope libraries will adapt to the changing needs of their populations and that the communities will continue to support them. One thing that might need a remake is the image of a library as being a repository of dusty bookshelves. Classes, computers, and special events are only part of what they do. And yes, Molly, they make you feel as though your town is a community when you have a library. It can also still be a quiet place to go, read, and contemplate.

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