With the emergence of electronic documentation, the question is raised for the need of libraries. But isn’t everything is online? Everything (all information, all knowledge, all the assets, all the ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc.) is accessible from anywhere. So why preserve, develop, evolve these archaic institutions of another age?
1. Books weren’t always what they used to be.
The library that we are most familiar with today, a public or academic institution, that lends out books for free is a product of the democratization of knowledge. In the old days, books weren’t always so affordable, and private libraries, or book clubs, were a privilege of the rich. More public libraries popped up as a result of government programs. There were over 200 libraries created every year since the 1800’s.
2. Some books aren’t available all of the time.
In spite of what you may think, not everything is online. It is already prohibited by federal law to make copyrighted books fully accessible through Google Book search. Add to that all the subscription-based services which are out of reach for most poor college students. College and some public libraries pay subscription fees en masse for the cumulative benefit of the campus or community.
3. The internet doesn’t ALWAYS have everything.
The internet is a great resource to finding information, but it’s not a complete replacement for libraries nationwide. However, gathering “factoids” and “info-snacking” can be done much more efficiently online than by physically grabbing dozens of volumes of various milieus and looking through them. The fact is this: libraries are different than the web, but not completely inferior.
4. Gotta love your library!
We are not quite ready to abandon the library. Libraries can adapt to social and technological changes, but they can’t be fully replaced. While libraries are distinct from the internet, librarians are the most well-versed professionals to guide students, citizens, and educators toward a better understanding of how to find valuable information. Indeed, a lot of information is on the internet. Rather than lope blindly through the digital age, guided only by corporate interests, society should foster a community of guides. Today, libraries and their staff are essential for the preservation and development of our culture.