Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other wonderful inventions have provided us the freedom to purchase and download e-books from anywhere. We no longer have to travel to the neighborhood bookstore, nor do we have to make regular visits to the library. The question becomes, then, where does this leave libraries? Can they survive the digital age?
Perhaps the discussion begins with the librarians themselves. “The Los Angeles Times” argues that librarians have to reframe what they believe about libraries and what they mean to communities. In the digital age, librarians should know the technologies available to them and be able to think outside the box in order to bring people into their libraries.
Education for librarians has made this shift. Colleges and universities aim to graduate librarians that can breathe new life into libraries. They understand the aptitudes librarians need are different in the digital age.
The Changing Role of Libraries
Librarians have to understand that libraries must become more of a community center than ever before. Patrons can currently check out e-books from their libraries, but they do not have to go into the library to do so. Therefore, libraries cannot remain a place of solitude where people go to peruse books and newspapers.
Libraries around the country are seeing book rooms that sit empty, but computer labs that are constantly busy. Many librarians have noticed and are recognizing their role as teacher, activity director, technology guru as well as their traditional role as book sage. Libraries are offering a multitude of activities, book clubs, readings and classes for people of all ages. They are providing valuable services to communities.
New Ways to Offer Materials
Not only do libraries have to get involved in their communities, they also need to be a part of discussion happening in the publishing world. National Public Radio (NPR) reports this is beginning to happen. Libraries have to discover ways to offer e-books without putting publishers out of business.
Currently, there are publishers who will not sell to libraries. NPR states libraries and publishers are discovering solutions that will keep both libraries and publishers alive. One of the ideas is a subscription for each library to material that would have to be renewed periodically. It's a solution that would allow libraries access to e-books and publishing companies would earn money for their material.
Libraries are also looking into ways to bring patrons original electronic material. This material may have a local spin, or be a topic of interest to patrons.
Libraries are attempting to do their part to stay alive through modern education for librarians and creating libraries that contribute to a vital community life. If you are devoted to keeping libraries alive, leave your computer and get involved with your library. You will be glad you did.