A couple days ago, I was reading about the plans to completely rebuild the Stanley A. Milner Library downtown Edmonton, and came across a few comments asking what the point is. Libraries will disappear soon.
Why would libraries disappear? Well, he says that since everyone’s going to be reading eBooks in the future, we no longer need paper copies. Therefore, libraries will be useless. I disagree.
First, libraries hold a lot of rare and old books. These are not going to be digitised. They’re actually quite valuable, and if people want to see them, they have to go to a library.
Second, not all books can legally be downloaded as an eBook. It depends on the publisher and the author. If they don’t want it available as an eBook, it can only be available in print. Don’t want to buy it? Go to a library.
Libraries aren’t just places to find books. They’re also places to study. Many students go there to study. When I was in university, we had to use the library for research. Online research was not allowed. It could not be cited in an official research paper. We had to use hard copies for our research, and the only place to find them was in the library. This included research journals, books that would cost hundreds of dollars to buy, and microfiche. Good luck getting those online.
Libraries are social institutes. People gather there for many purposes. Children gather there for social events, reading, and learning to discover the joys of reading. I can’t see kids pulling out iPads in a classroom to search for books online, go through Amazon and purchase them. They go to the library, which, in my opinion, is a lot more fun, and the kids will interact with each other.
Libraries offer books to read for free for a limited time. Putting them all online and available for free would mean that authors make nothing. As a result, there’d be very little new fiction. The entire publishing industry (including indie publishing) would collapse. Sorry, no new books. What’s the point in writing them if they can’t sell books, since they’d be available for free online?
Finally, I like libraries and books. No, I love libraries and books. I love being in libraries, and I love holding books in my hand. Nothing beats that. And besides, real books don’t need batteries.
What do you think?