Why Libraries are Still Important

The digital developments have made convenience a reality for many people. These people have claimed that they don’t need to use old-fashioned libraries or even paperback books. It makes sense therefore people go further and predict that the digital age will obliterate bookshelves. Despite their perceived uselessness, libraries and librarians are still irreplaceable for numerous reasons. Here are some justifications why they are still important now.

The Internet Doesn’t Have Everything

Just because the internet has a lot of useful information (emphasize on a lot), doesn’t mean that it has everything. Technological giants like Google know this and thus they are trying hard to convert books from libraries into electronic data. However even with the current technological advancements, it’s still impossible to convert human knowledge into a digital form.

Considering that advancements are happening at blinding speed, it can still be possible in the near future that human knowledge can be digitized. In this scenario, it’s still impossible to convert the entire information. The possibility that their books and written works will become easily accessible to everyone isn’t taken too lightly by authors and publishers. Current laws even prohibit making copyrighted books easily downloadable by the public.

Libraries are Different from the Internet

When people claim that there are “digital libraries on the internet”, they are actually speaking about an entirely different matter. An online library is defined as a collection of materials that have been published before. These published articles are then subjected to quantitative analysis. These online published articles include journals, books, newspapers, documents, reports, and magazines which are then stored and indexed in a restricted database.

Although you can still find these databases through the internet, you’ll still need to have access or register to be able to browse through them. In this sense, you’re still online, but you’re already in a library.

Libraries are Free

You need to pay for a registration fee on the internet if you want to download or browse through academic journals, research papers, and other materials. These subscriptions can be very expensive and most of the times you just need to look at a single article. Compare this with visiting a college library or even browsing your library’s website using your school account. This is free and the books and journals are organized in such a way that they’re easy for you to find.

Libraries Improve Test Scores

Studies have shown that a student who visits school libraries with sufficient books and staffs perform better on his reading and writing exams. This is in contrast to fellow students who choose to study online. They also have access to the same materials, but they can do a lot of other unnecessary tasks as well. Students who study using online materials end up procrastinating or performing different tasks compared to students who study in the library.

Although it is worth mentioning that libraries who combine digital technology with their resources also improve test scores a lot. This is due to the ease in access in which students can access their library materials.

Libraries are Expanding from Books

The common notion is that technology will replace libraries and render them obsolete. In reality though, libraries are embracing technology and integrating it into their services. Books are accessible digitally (though you still need a password, i.e. your student details), and they even offer digital media like DVDs.

In some areas, it’s even possible to check a book’s availability in the library and return it via satellite drop-off areas. What you do is simply search the library website for the book’s availability if it’s still being borrowed and when it will be returned. To return the book, you don’t have to go back to the library. You can simply go to a registered drop-off area and scan the barcode on the book before you drop it in the appropriate box. It will then register in the database that you’ve already returned it.

Mobile Devices Aid Libraries

The advent of the eBook and other portable reading devices was interpreted as the beginning of the downfall of the paperback books. Their portability and ease in use have indeed drawn lots of readers away from the traditional books.

However, there are still readers that prefer paperbound books and the sort. They have asserted that owning first edition hardbound books is similar to collecting rare artifacts. There is also the allure of reading with the smell of old parchment or paper that can’t be replaced with digital books. Lastly, there are still a lot of backlog printed books that are not yet in digital form. These are the books from independent, small-time authors that appeal to a certain niche out there.

People are Visiting Libraries Virtually

Libraries have reported a decrease in the number of visitors over the past few years. It doesn’t mean that people are just not interested in them anymore; it means that visitors are adapting and finding alternate ways to access the library. While the physical visitors count is dwindling, the number of unique IP addresses accessing library sites is steadily increasing.

This can be attributed to the people’s growing reliance in technology and the increasing number of online schools. These schools tie up with online libraries to provide their students with the appropriate resources in the comfort of their own home.

Libraries are Continuously Evolving

It’s wrong to assume that libraries will forever be quiet places where talking and holding meetings are not allowed. They are even changing as we have mentioned with regards to digital resources, libraries are adapting and expanding their area. With regards to their physical set up, libraries are now allowing group studies, art exhibits, and overall discussions. In this sense, libraries are not becoming obsolete; in fact they are changing and evolving.

Libraries are Cultural Heritages

In a time when books were very expensive and only available for the upper classes, libraries were created to answer this need. They were a symbol of the government’s initiatives to bridge the gap and make books more affordable for the masses. Historically, they were also a symbol of the government’s defiance against the book-burning Nazis. This showed citizens that the government was democratic and opted for a more liberal society.

With all that history, it’s no surprise therefore that libraries are considered national heritages. They carry with them a lot of memoirs, both good and bad. Some libraries are even regarded as tourist spots and are included in city tours. This goes to show how much fame libraries have gained over the years and what they stand to represent.

Technology indeed brings a lot of convenience into our lives. However, this doesn’t mean that it will be the main force to bring down libraries. On the contrary, it only goes to show why libraries are still important in our developing society. Libraries are also changing as to how people use them while reminding us why they were erected in the first place.

Myths Related to Reading

Reading draws various feelings from people. Some can’t live without it, others despise it, and a few tolerate it. With these variations in emotions, a lot of people have developed their own theories behind the effects of reading. A couple of these theories are scientifically based, while others are just baseless accusations. Before you fall into the pitfalls of these false beliefs, educate yourself with these myths related to reading and whether they’re right or downright wrong.

Reading is Learned Naturally

A lot of people make the assumption that reading, like talking, is learned naturally with or without the prodding of the parent. People argue that if the child is exposed to an environment rich in literature then they will develop their own literacy skills.

The fault with this thinking lies in the comparison between reading and talking. They are both language skills, but they are very different ever since the dawn of time. It can be said that talking is developed naturally. Humans have a very strong innate need to develop a language of their own. When they are left to their own devices without any contact from the outside world, they develop their own language. Such is the case in “twin language”, where two twins who spend a lot of time with each other develop their own sounds related to their environment. Keep in mind that this is without outside influence of any sort.

On the other hand, reading is not naturally developed. In fact, reading was invented (and continuously reinvented) by man over thousands of years. Reading and writing isn’t proven to exist for a long period to be classified as a natural talent.

If reading was indeed natural, then there would be no literacy gap or literacy crisis in all cultures now. Statistics have shown that a huge number of people are still illiterate despite the government’s best efforts to bring education to them. This further cements the idea that reading doesn’t happen naturally and needs to be cultivated.

The “Success Rate” of Reading Programs

A reading program is a special curriculum bought and sold to schools to address their literacy issues. This involves a change in instruction, use of special books, and development of specific evaluation tools. Needless to say, this involves a lot of time and money from the school involved.

Reading programs have proven to be very efficient in reducing the literacy crisis. However, there is no single reading program that has shown success among children and teachers across cultures. Furthermore, there is no reading program that has proven to speed up a child’s level of performance.

The reason for this difficulty in achieving a satisfactory success rate is because nothing can take the place of a talented and knowledgeable teacher. There are a few programs that aid the school in moving forward towards the right direction, but that’s just about as best a reading program can get.

Previous Methods of Teaching Reading was Better

You can easily hear people gripe on the street or over social media, that “back in the day, it was better because…” People have also applied this philosophy regarding reading. They say that teachers before were more efficient and students were more educated compared to the students of today.

In this case, they’re very wrong and far from the truth. Studies have shown that literacy rates have not changed dramatically for over 30 years. A huge percentile of the students are ranked in the “below basic” group, while less than 10% fall in the “advanced” group. In fact, some studies have even proven that literacy rates 40 years ago were worse than today.

The reason why people make this half-assed assumption is because the demand for literacy has increased substantially. A lot of people have difficulty finding jobs due to their lack of literacy skills even if it was the same rank compared to decades ago. Previously, people could find a job based on their practical skills even if their literacy skill was found lacking. Currently, literacy skills are based for a person’s success in the present and more in the future.

Movies Equal Books

This has been on for many years and is subject to many debates now. The grisly truth is this: movies are severely limited by a lot of factors. They are constrained by budget, technology (like visual effects), ratings, and choice of characters are all elements which comprise a film. On the other hand, books are rich with information and detail. Every swing of the blade and conversation is very important and can have lasting effects on the story.

The reason why people have made this wrongful assumption is because of Hollywood’s obsession in turning bestsellers into movies. People can’t help but compare books and movies because of this trend, and the uneducated few make the mistake of judging too soon.

Reading Develops Speaking

Research has established that the ability to manipulate and hear sounds is necessary for children to be good readers. In simple terms, this means that young children have to develop sounds before they can speak words. Later on, this spills over into reading when children can link the sounds they have learned into letters and written words.

While this fact holds true, it doesn’t happen ambiguously. If a child focuses on reading, he/she doesn’t develop the skill to read the word out loud. Keep in mind that when a child reads, they don’t need to speak the words to be able to understand it. It’s possible to read silently and understand what the idea is. Learning to speak is one of the basic foundation for reading and not the opposite.

Children Need to Read Only Once

For some adults, a single read is enough for them to retain information about the text. The same doesn’t apply to children for many reasons. Adults have already practiced reading a lot of times using different material and are thus able to process information at a much faster pace. This makes it easier to store information on a long-term basis with just a single read.

Children are not that skilled yet and need multiple reads for a single selection before they master it and understand what the text is about. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to let the child read texts two or three times first to allow them to practice as much as they need. This doesn’t mean that they need to sit down and read the text three times in a row – it’s very boring even for adults. You can spread their reading pace over a week, offering to read with them the first few times before they can read the same text on their own.

Reading and writing has evolved from simple scribbles on the wall into something more complex. These myths related to reading are from a wide scenario and some might even be applicable for you in one way or another. As what some of these myths have shown, a good way to fight ignorance is reading up on various things and having an open mind.