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.