In on our modern age, we are always updating technology, the Internet being a big part of that. From streaming shows to online shopping, the Internet has brought quite a lot to the table. Although, this does bring up concerns for various fields of work, one of these including libraries and their relevance in the modern world. With the technologically-based society we live in, is it possible that libraries can become extinct?
Oddly enough, this has come up in many conversations over the last two weeks since I’ve been back at school. Personally, I find it quite baffling to think of any sort of library becoming useless. For thousands of years, libraries have been the key to power through education. So, the question that crosses my mind is: how could anyone want to throw away such a valuable piece of society for an eBook?
I’m usually not one to shoot down new technology the moment I hear about it. I think technological advancements are amazing.They’re the reason we’ve improved parts of our society, like medicine, education and transportation. However, the more we move toward new technology, the more we’ll start to abandon the old. For example, radios. They’re still used today, but they used to be a lot more popular in the 1930s and 40s. Once the television was invented, there was a gradual move from them. If eBooks and the Internet are becoming easier and more interesting to use than going to a library, it is possible the same will happen.
Before this becomes an actual issue, we should know why physical spaces for learning, like libraries, are the best for education. First, getting books at the library for research is your best bet. I understand that typing your question into google and seeing what answers it gives you is probably the easiest option — but, not everything on the Internet is 100 percent factual. We may be able to spread information and knowledge practically at light speed via the Internet, but it doesn’t always mean that information is true. There are a lot of faulty, unreliable documents online. It would be less effort if you just opened up a textbook, searched under the index and got what you were looking for. This way is more efficient and easier since all the information you need is right there.
Second, going to the library makes you more involved in your community. Getting a book at the library forces you to go outside and to talk to some people. It’s even a great place to meet up with friends to do homework or work on group projects. Having some sort of social aspect in your life is healthy, but if you don’t want to be social it’s also a great place to escape from people too. Libraries are quiet, relaxing places where people go all the time to study and learn. And, if you need help with your work, a librarian is always there to guide you in the right direction.
Lastly, print books seem to be more efficient than eBooks. Now, I know not everyone likes print books and there are people who learn better from eBooks. However, there are reasons why physical copies tend to be better. In a study discussed in The LA Times, it shows that 92 percent of college students prefer print copies over eBooks for personal and studying reasons. A 2012 study featured in The Guardian found that students don’t connect emotionally with on-screen texts. Paper readers were reported being more empathic than those who read from their iPads. This doesn’t just mean being empathic toward a story, it also means absorbing the information and connecting with it on a personal level. To add onto this point, as stated in a study from a PBS article, it’s more effective to study by taking notes with a pen and paper because, unlike typing words on a keyboard, the more you write something, the more likely your brain will remember the information.
Without libraries and people using physical copies of books, there can also be a significant decrease in book sales. The more the Internet becomes prominent, the more chances there are for bootlegging books as we do with movies and music. Not a lot of people seem to be buying CDs or using iTunes anymore, and most musicians make sales from their concerts and merchandise. Although I’m frightened of libraries becoming obsolete, I do have hope they will not disappear forever, even though technology is becoming more frequent amongst younger generations. This is seen in many schools nowadays. In a New York Times article, students in a sixth grade class routinely use laptops to complete their assignments for the day. This could lead to a generation preferring eBooks and technology over the physical. So, before this does happen, as a society we should combine the two. We are starting to do this in libraries, such as having free access to computers and wifi. If we keep up with compromising the two worlds, the next generation won’t be stuck solely on technology. Our society can become a lot more versatile from having physical and technological access to information and gain a wider, more diverse palette for learning. After all, the only way anything can get fixed is with a good compromise.