View Full Version : Will libraries disappear too?

3-30-11, 10:54am
I have always loved going to the public library no matter where I have lived. It is one of those institutions that for me fulfills a democratic ideal. The thought of sitting quietly with other humans absorbed in learning or escape is magic to me. And that a society would embrace that as a civic necessity. Being able to go online to hold or transfer books to my local branch is wonderful. It seems though that books are becoming less and less important as technology forges ahead with e-readers etc. Private and corporate bookstores are closing all around. Additionally, public funds are dwindling so the libraries are the first to have their budgets cut. I don't want to imagine a life without them but it seems public libraries will eventually disappear as this generation moves forward.

3-30-11, 11:28am
This is one of my fears so I decided to get involved in my library. Our friends group raises a lot of money each year and I am involved in their activities. I also give a portion of my charity money to the library earmarked for buying books and magazines. Our library is tied to our school district. It is a separate budget but if you are in our school district you get taxed a certain amount for the library. It is a small amount each year and so far the budget has passed except when they wanted to build a new building, but it ended up eventually being built and now is he centerpiece of our community.

Our library has trustee meetings and I truly believe they are being good stewards of our money. One of the trustees is really good at writing for government grants and we recently had a huge computer center open due to his efforts. The times dictate that while I would like to see books in the library, videos and computers are a very popular part of our library.

I urge each of you library lovers to stop by and talk to the librarian and ask what can you do to help keep them open.

3-30-11, 12:17pm
Where we live, libraries seem to be relatively healthy, and highly valued by the citizens. However, where my mother-in-law lives, the city, which has a population of about 120k, closed all branch libraries, leaving open only a downtown branch with limited hours and limited parking.

3-30-11, 2:19pm
I hope not.

3-30-11, 3:08pm
Well as for funding: they are always passing special taxes for library funding, so I don't think libraries will disappear for funding reasons (a lot of other stuff will disappear long before then, like higher education funding, because it actually does rely on the state budget).

They could disappear if they become perceived as no longer necessary though. And if everyone switches to e-readers etc. it might happen. Only then will funding dry out, not because the state is broke or something, but because the public will to pass special taxes for libraries will decline. Hours have been cut some though. The thing about the local libraries here, is their selection is not great (if I want a book odds are I won't be able to find it by searching the library catalog).

3-30-11, 4:50pm
I made my weekly library run today. At the checkout desk, they had a selection of handouts on various e-readers that are compatible with their system. They aren't letting grass grow beneath their feet.

3-30-11, 6:38pm
As a librarian, I could write reams about this topic. Luckily, someone has already done that for me! Below is a link to a report on current library use. The agency that compiled the report (OCLC) is a well-known and reliable source for library cataloging information, used by almost every library in the U.S.

It's a long report, but interesting!

3-30-11, 6:49pm
I can't imagine libraries disappearing. But I do think they will change a lot and be more of a literacy centre than a book centre. Our new library that is in the planning will have lots of books and lots of other technologies too. It will likely have meeting rooms, tutoring rooms, audio-visual space and other things. Perhaps it will have a fireplace and a coffee shop. Who knows.

I like this. It is like the museums of yesteryear are mostly gone, but the new interactive spaces in museums seem to be very popular. I say bring on this change.

3-30-11, 6:54pm
They tore down a really cool library and put up some sort of space ship like thing that some architect is calling a library. Most of the space is air (large open balconies) that look down in to a huge hallway that is like 8 stories tall (all just air) and the hall at the bottom is narrow so it is hard to walk through.

Most of the floor space is devoted to computers. The books that I read are in a closed off room that is hard to find the entrance too. When you walk in there, all the bookshelves are pushed together so you can not access them. You have to hit a button and a robotic system moves the shelves so that you can get inside of them. It is awful. It assumes that only one person is in there at a time cause you can only have access to one shelf at a time (you have to have the robot move them all to get in another one).

I hate it. And since they spent all the money on that building, they have to close the library on certain days because of no funds.

I understand the need for low incomes to be able to access the internet because it seems you need the internet to be able to function in the world, but where did all the books go!

OH....the dvd section is always full of people.

3-30-11, 7:37pm
We have a small branch library that was on the chopping block, but was saved. I expect that someday it will go. That will be very sad since the larger, main downtown library is about a half hour away, and I rarely go into town anymore. :(

I don't go into ours often, but when I want some books on a subject, or just want to browse, it's indispensible. We have a wonderful system that allows us to borrow from about 8 far-flung libraries as well as reserving things on-line from home. That's only 50 cents/book, and they call when the books are in. It's such a wonderful system.

3-30-11, 8:03pm
Libraries used to remind me of temples. The ones being built now--at least around here--are more like warehouses. The much vaunted main Seattle library feels kind of like a parking garage. Personally, I prefer temples, but even a Borders-style reading room beats a concrete box. Apropos of nothing.

3-30-11, 8:12pm
Oh God I hope not!! I don't think I could survive if there were no libraries!

I'm sure they will probably adapt and evolve, as someone mentioned above.

Whenever I visit either of my local libraries they are always busy.

3-30-11, 9:37pm
Well, I grew up in the 60's and if I learned one thing it is that passive wishing and hoping gets you nothing. Going out and actively working for what you believe in can constitute change.

If our libraries are allowed to close it is because people stand idly by. If you are a library user get your act together. Figure out what is going on with your library and work to fix it. You can change the course of history if you care enough.

3-31-11, 8:44am
Our local libraries are VERY busy. We just got four beautiful new branches built (whew - all the $$ allocated before 2008) and they are just hopping. I don't see them closing - they appear to be busier than ever. The buildings are so gorgeous and designed so well. We're very fortunate.

Sad Eyed Lady
3-31-11, 9:12am
Oh no, I can't imagine a world without libraries! I have been involved in libraries where ever I have lived, and even stop into a library in towns where we might be visiting. Our local library seems to be doing well. Although I am no longer on the library board I did serve on it for about 16 years and will always be concerned with the welfare of this system. I remember saying at a meeting once that a library is truly no respecter of persons - each patron who comes in, either a homeless person or Bill Gates, would have equal access to the services and all free of charge! LONG LIVE LIBRARIES!

3-31-11, 11:11am
Inspite of all the online and electronic resources that are availible outside of library systems these days, everytime I've visited my library the parking lots are pretty much filled up and all of the computer stations are full. While there may be some budget issues that may endanger libraries, at least in my area they are not falling into dis-use. The two libraries closest to me have announced that they will be closed on Mondays, but seem to have money to do some recent extensive remodelling.

Having free access to books seems so important that I hope libraries will be around for a long time.

3-31-11, 11:24am
As I've boasted about before, my library system is robust and consistently funded, with new buildings going up and materials acquisition proceeding apace. Branch libraries are always busy here. (The region is consistently in the top tier of nationwide library use.) I Hope that never changes, though technologies naturally will.

3-31-11, 12:43pm
In the city of Newport Beach, CA., they are currently proposing to do away with a "book" library and make it all digital. Nothing but electronic book readers and computers. No books. No magazines. No nothin'! Sad but true. Seems to be lots of cities proposing this - even weathy cities like Newport Beach. This will be a sad day for me who uses the library for everything. I just read a short horror story (out of a "real" library book :-)!) about a future where books are no longer used and there are vast warehouses thru out the world holding millions and millions of rotting books stacked floor to ceiling. No one visited these "Warehouse Ghosttowns" of former libraries and book stores, and so unearthly "things" grew there and vile evil lurked amongst the rotted carcases of old book. Is that our future? Well on the one hand it probably is very environmentally correct to do away with a gazzillion paper books and use e-book instead. Recycle all the old stuff into building material for the homeless or something. But still it will be a sad day.

If you want to check out the idea, just goggle Newport Beach Ca Library and look for the LA times and MSNBC news articles. Basicly they would make it a community center and bookless library. Instead of a librarian, they would have a computer kiosk where you could hook up with a library employee elsewhere for info. If you wanted to order a print book, you do it at the kiosk and then it would be dropped in a locker at a layer date from some other library. So you'd still have access to print book and other media, just not at all the libraries in town.

3-31-11, 1:00pm
I am a "mega" user at our library system. I cannot envision my life without it! I am always learning something. The newest thing in the system is to be able to access Morningstar and Valueline right from home, also Chilton auto manuals, Consumer Reports and systems to learn a foreign language plus a myriad of other cool things. The libraries in the area offer a multitude of free classes. I sure hope this does not radically change. It is really wonderful. This makes me think I need to talk to the people at the library and see if anything is coming down the pike and what can be done if so.

4-1-11, 1:30am
Spartana--what a terrifying vision! I'll probably have nightmares...

ETA: How would you browse? This is so wrong.

4-1-11, 2:00pm
Spartana--what a terrifying vision! I'll probably have nightmares...

ETA: How would you browse? This is so wrong.

You have to sit on your butt in front of a computer screen and scroll thru all the e-books! Apparently it got approved so it's happening even as we speak. Just keep telling yourself: "it's environmentally correct, it's environmentally correct".

4-1-11, 2:43pm
I am on our county's library board. Due to the library first being a school library and a public library with two satellite branches, we were the first group to ask for funding for the library on the ballot a few years ago to help with the "public" side of the funding. It passed. We are hoping to keep this up and we will be going through another millage in 2 or 3 years.

I do purchase books from the Friends of the Library group in our area to also help with the money flow. When I'm done with these books, I redonate to the Friends of the Library.

Hopefully the libraries will not close.

4-1-11, 3:57pm
"it's environmentally correct, it's environmentally correct".

Is it? I haven't seen life cycle calculations on this. And I ESPECIALLY doubt it is true for LIBRARY books. Because library books are used by MANY people for MANY years.

Aren't library paper books already the greenest model? Trees: theoretically renewable resource, paper is recyclable AND biodegradable in theory, no power needed to "run" them :). Yes, some power is used in manufacturing them. And then used by many people for years. I mean that seems pretty powered down green to me.

San Onofre Guy
4-1-11, 4:39pm
Small branches will go away no question, they are too expensive to operate. Central libraries will become stronger. City libraries that share facilities on school locations will thrive, they might not be available to the general public during school hours but after three in the afternoon they are the central hub of community activity. A library that over the past five years that didn't build a strong "Friends of the Library" Group, begin to rent the latest books and movies and provide computers will die and go away. Like anything else in life it is service service service and give what your customer demands.

4-2-11, 11:49am
Is it? I haven't seen life cycle calculations on this. And I ESPECIALLY doubt it is true for LIBRARY books. Because library books are used by MANY people for MANY years.

Aren't library paper books already the greenest model? Trees: theoretically renewable resource, paper is recyclable AND biodegradable in theory, no power needed to "run" them :). Yes, some power is used in manufacturing them. And then used by many people for years. I mean that seems pretty powered down green to me.

Massive amount of toxic inks used for each and every book - and the pollution and energy used to both make those inks and dispose of any waste products. Huge amount of energy used (and the resultant pollution) to chop down trees, harvest trees, get them to a paper mill, turn them into paper, ship them to a book manufacterure and then the printing press, and then ship to store or library, and then each customer needs to get to the store or library to purchase/borrow the book, disposal of any manufacturing process waste, etc.. Then you have the same factors to deal with when recycling. Which requires a huge amount of energy and water as well have having the environmental issues of once again manufacturing something new from all the recycled products, the shipping, the waste, etc.. it goes on and on... Not to mention that you need a large space to house a book library and that requires energy to build and to run - electric, water, a/c, heat, etc..

4-2-11, 2:43pm
much as I hate to think it....you make a good point, Spartana......I shall kiss my Kindle, and slowly begin to recognize that eventually, if not soon, "dead tree books" may go the way of rotary phones, ditto machines and carbon paper.

although, for myself, the paper book has a relationship with me somehow that my Kindle, much as I love it, just doesn't engender. And some kinds of books just seem to REQUIRE tactile handling.......

but, put as you did, even library books, while surely "greener" than each person just buying a copy for themselves, isn't without its environmental costs. Sad, huh?

4-3-11, 8:39am
I don't think the issue of digital vs print is as cut and dry as it's made out to be. As a recent LIS graduate, I've had to study the ins and outs of this topic, and in all honesty, I think the two will continue to coexist within our lifetime. Who knows, a gazillion years from now, things might be different.

But of course, library services are continually under threat during times of 'austerity', particularly when decision-makers are somehow under the impression that "everything can be found via Google".

Also, we need to spread the word that libraries are more than just BOOKS! Many people have a very outmoded idea of what public libraries are actually all about.