Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Public Library. What Does the Future Hold?

Most of the time, I love our public library.

Over the years, we have spent quite a bit of time there browsing for books, playing in the children's area, attending special programs, and much more.

There have been a few instances when one of their stricter (in my opinion: unnecessary) rules have bothered me, but mainly, we love it there. Big Sister E and I first started attending story time at the local library when she was 5 months old and we have continued ever since, even having met some of our most favorite friends through the program.

Because we like it so much, we even overlook when there are spiders climbing the shelves on Halloween...


The library building itself is nice as well, with the children's area far from the silent, no-talking area - smart thinking by someone in the planning stages - and there are plenty of windows, computers for everyone, open space to move around, and a lack of fake flowers that I appreciate.

(That's not just me, right? When I visit somewhere that is filled with fake plants or tries to make it seem like we're not in the middle of winter in the Midwest by using tropical artificial flowers in their decor, well, that just makes me cringe a little bit.)

When that cute spider isn't busy climbing, she also likes to admire and say hi to the library's bearded dragon, who stays safely inside a large tank (to Mommy's huge relief)...


So with the surge in ways to read books digitally, sometimes I worry about the future of libraries. Are they still going to be around when it is time for my grandkids to attend story time? Will books still be around by then?

What do you think? Do you visit your local library? Do you still read books in print or are they all digital?

(Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/3)

13 comments:

ShanimalsCrackers.blogspot.com said...

I prefer actual books over electronic versions. But I don't like going to my library because it's not easy access and there's no parking.

I will only go if I put a really good book on hold and it's in.

heather said...

I love libraries! I grew up going there at least weekly & even spent 3 summers working in a library when I was in college. I am now very lucky to be able to access 4 wonderful libraries & usually have way too many books checked out from at least 2 or 3 of them. Libraries seem to be doing a good job of expandind with the times by offering dvds & computer games to check out, wireless use, & a variety of programs. I know I much prefer a "real" book in my hand & judging by how busy the libraries I've been in this week were, I don't think they will be going anywhere soon.

Susan Fobes said...

There is nothing like the feel of a book in your hand, or seeing the excitement in your child's eyes when you announce a trip to the library. But libraries aren't just book suppliers-they are centers for different activities. My feeling is that libraries will eventually have to evolve (ours now offers digital rentals), but it will still remain a point of refuge for all...

Montessori For Learning said...

I love books in print. I love snuggling up with it anywhere in the house. I usually only use digital books for reference when I cannot get to the library/or if my book of choice is checked out and it will be awhile- as it starts hurting my eyes after reading them after a few minutes.

Blogger Broadcast said...

My daughter still loves the real books, and we go to the library often.

SocialStudiesSoubrette said...

Little Bit and I just discovered the baby story time at our library and we love it. He is 14 months old and really enjoys the story, playing near other kids, and playing with all the great tactile toys they have. What a fantastic and free thing to do with your little one. Personally my books are all digital since I got my Kindle but I like Little Bit to have the real deal. I think when we give them the tech to read a book sometimes they focus on the device instead of the story. I certainly hope that libraries will continue to be in service. They are such a great resource. I would however love to see them all offer works digitally for all readers.

dannyscotland said...

I don't know the name of the story, or the author, or even where I read it, but when I was a kid, I read this story about two children who got up and went to school, and it was in their living room (this was before homeschooling was commonplace, so this in itself was a new idea to me). They got on the computer and did their work there. All schools were like that, in this story. Then they happened upon a real book--paper and everything, and they had never seen one. They didn't understand the book, or how it worked, or why the pages stayed the same when you turned back to them (I guess in this futuristic books-on-computer world, the pages would change or something. It was a strange story, but one that I see coming true in many ways.

I hope people won't forget the value and importance of real books. I'm not a super avid reader or anything, but I appreciate books for what they are, printed on paper, that I can turn and hold and write on if I want.

I think libraries are embracing the changes as much as they can; one that I take my daughter to has Kindles and Nooks that you can check out and they're expanding their selection of downloadable books, too. I think they'll always be around, at least I hope, but I think they will necessarily change with the times.

The Baldree Family said...

We go to the library once a week at our house. I think it is a great thing to be able to utilize. I think they will be around for a while but they may become smaller with less and less days to actually attend... at least that is the ways ours is going but I think they will remain open for a while. You can't just replace a real book.

Erin said...

While I love my mom's Nook, I still prefer to hold a physical book in my hand when I read. The libraries in my area offer many different kids' programs and often host community events or meetings in addition to lending books. We're there every week to participate in Story Time. But each year funding gets cut further and further, and I wonder how long these great places really will exist. My grandchildren might still have libraries, but I really doubt my great grandchildren will... :(

Alicia C. said...

We go to the library often. As the weather gets warmer, we'll go even more. My oldest goes every day after school to use the computers - he's not allowed to use our computers due to some very bad viruses he gave us!

I HATE e-books! The lack of holding a book in your hands and turning pages is just not right. You don't need electricity to read a book. And that musty smell is like the finest perfume to my nose! I don't think real books will ever go out of style, they're just being challenged by a lesser form of reading right now. I know who will prevail!

Elle said...

I will keep going to our library as long as it it there. I love real books. I don't believe that real books will ever completely go away.

Jayne said...

I used to be an avid library user but not for quite a few years. If I really want to read a book, I go buy one because I struggle returning them on time. (Medical reasons for the struggling.) We recently got a Nook and I love it. I love the portability and that it stores so many books. (I'm running out of shelf space.)

Dena said...

I'm an avid reader and have been since I learned to read at age 4. Because of this, the library is a great option. I'm just not interested in outlaying the amount of cash my book habit would cost me! And since, with the library, I don't have to pay for the book, I can take a risk on a new author and if I don't like it, I haven't thrown away any money. Although there are free digital books, certainly most of them are not free and never will become free. I have been downloading free classics, like The Invisible Man and Benjamin Buttons, and they're fun to read in the originals versions.

Our local library is wonderful and certainly seems to be thriving. The offer movie and music rentals for free, as well as offering computers and all the rest of the things people have written about.

And really? Nothing better than being able to call up and see if they have a book and have them hold it for you when you suddenly realize you need it for a school project for the next day.

Libraries may thin out, but they won't disappear.