Thursday, 5th August 2010
Newsweek Asks: "Farewell, Libraries?"
The title of the Newsweek article is a bit misleading. It isn't that bad.
The writer wonders aloud if e-books will replace physical books. No doubt e-books are growing rapidly but print will be around for at least a few more years. (-: Don't forget that while e-books are BOOMING AND EXPLODING, print-on-demand is also getting some attention and deals made these days.
Here's one brief passage:
But the news [about Amazon.com selling more e-book hardbacks than print] did conjure quite an interesting mental image: libraries that from now on will look smaller and less crowded. For the moment, letís not argue with the proposition that people will read as much as they ever have, no matter whether they read an actual book or a book on a screen.
We're not sure precisely what the author, Malcolm Jones, means.
If libraries will look smaller because the shelves will have fewer books on them. Maybe. Not sure. Less crowded because there will be more space for people to sit and work? We're not sure about that one either.
However, Mr. Jones could have selected his favorite web search engine or made a call or two and learned:
1) Libraries already offer e-books, audiobooks, and e-video. It's a growing area but not new. OverDrive, NetLibrary and others should give Mr. Jones a call.
2) Many libraries (especially in the academic world) are overflowing and need space. We've recently posted about off-site storage facilities at Penn and Syracuse.
3) Again, a quick search or call (ALA? NYPL?) would have provided Mr. Jones with a number of recent statistics on how BUSY libraries are these days. Perhaps, like many, he quickly assumes that libraries are about books and books alone. That's just not the case. Plus, he would have also learned that one reason libraries could potentially (not reality) have fewer people in the physical building is due to the fact that some (but not all) of the resources, including access to the librarians, is available remotely and in many cases are accessible 24x7 from any computer, anywhere in the world.