Last Thursday, I took the morning off from work to watch my kids while their normal daycare provider (grandma and grandpa) had other responsibilities. It was a fun morning of cartoons, cereal-eating, and snuggles. But the highlight of the morning was the trip to the library.
I just read this article–something between a book review and a topical discussion–about John Palfrey’s book, Bibliotech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google. If you don’t feel like reading the full article now (even though you should because it is totally worth the few minutes reading time), let me just point to this paragraph.
A Gallup survey from 2013 found that libraries are not just popular, they’re extremely popular. Over 90 percent of Americans feel that libraries are a vital part of their communities. Compare this to 53 percent for the police, 27 percent for public schools, and just 7 percent for Congress, and you’re looking at perhaps the greatest success of the public sector.
A question I heard a lot while I worked at a brick-and-mortar bookstore was “Are eBooks going to kill paperbacks?” This question says a lot about the person asking it. Change is probably a dangerous idea for them and they likely going to be nostalgic for bookstores of yesteryear, thus they are already disappointed on some level with the changes that have already happened.
I could see people asking the same question about public libraries–“Are eBooks going to kill libraries?”
The answer to both questions is the same. The introduction of eBooks will definitely change things, but I think people are too quick to dismiss the importance that bookstores and libraries have aside from simply having books on the shelf. These are gathering places, discussion places, community places, and learning places. Valuable places.
What does the library (or a good bookstore) mean to you?