Whither Go Libraries in the Digital Age?—Part 3
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 15:28
I've written twice
* before about what's to become of libraries in the digital age. A widely emailed New York Times
article should give heart to all of us who have worried about their fate. Here's the gist...A Pew Survey
found recently that the percentage of those who believe book borrowing is a "very important" library service (80%) is about the same as those who believe computer access is a "very important" library service (77%). As it happens, libraries have been meeting the challenge of the digital age all along:
In the past generation, public libraries have reinvented themselves to become technology hubs in order to help their communities access information in all its new form.
—Kathryn Zickuhr, Pew Research Center
to have too much information. Back in the dark ages, when the web was in its infancy, a friend of mine quipped that it needed a good librarian to get the stuff organized. This was a few years before Google. Today, the web clocks in at nearly 15 billion web pages
, and it's still growing at a mind-boggling rate. Google or no Google, we have digital overload.All of which
makes an "information manager" more important than ever—specialists who know how to search, locate, categorize, and vet information. And guess who does that really, really well? Librarians.What's more,
librarians share their skills. Every major library now offers its patrons—not just access
to digital equipment—but courses in how to use it...and how to maneuver the vast information galaxy.So 100 years
from now, even if we find their shelves bereft of the printed book, libraries and librarians will be more important than ever—as communal centers of knowledge. We'll still need them—so we better damn well make sure they're around! A warning to us all: we need to keep a close watch on our municipal budgets.
* See Whither Go Libraries in the Digital Age—Part 1
and Part 2