A while back I was confessing to my wife that upon reaching retirement, when I embark on a life of “light” working (being careful not to undermine anyone’s job description), I would like to work as a librarian. Then a thought crossed my mind, will traditional libraries still be around in 30 years time?
I am not a bookworm by any means, however I love books enough and do like spending quiet moments sitting in a library reading on different subjects. During my University days, I still remember the first time I visited The British Library for some research I was doing.
Today there is so much information available online, regardless of how accurate/authentic it may be. Electronic books, journals, white papers and even blogs, it’s overwhelming. As the Internet continues to grow at the speed of light, will people stop visiting libraries? No need to leave your house anymore, information at your fingertips.
Libraries have librarians, who we depend upon when we are looking for a particular book or researching a particular subject, are search engines the replacement? They may be our gateway to browse but are they intelligent enough to guide?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in digitising historical information to protect against wear & tear over time, but the thought that future generations may not even know what the texture of a book feels like, scares me somewhat. As time goes by, I can see companies dismissing printing to save costs and publish electronically, to adhere to the various devices now available from which to read this material. Lack of print will impact libraries, who therefore maybe forced to shut down due to lack of stock available.
Libraries offer a great avenue for human interaction between people yet it faces an ever-growing threat from the electronic age.