General Question

flutherother's avatar

Do we still need libraries?

Asked by flutherother (34579points) June 9th, 2011
201 responses
“Great Question” (8points)

Have libraries served their purpose? They were needed by previous generations who had no other means of accessing information and literature but today we have the Internet and information at our fingertips. Are libraries still needed? What do you think. Do you use libraries?

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chyna's avatar

Yes, I still go to the library and they are still necessary.

tom_g's avatar

Once you have kids, libraries go from being necessary to critical. We go to the library at least once a week and take out about 20 kids books. What other resource is available for me to expose my kids to that many books?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Yes. Although “we” have access to so much at home, not everyone does. I’m very fortunate in my life and I still use my library regularly. Did anyone send this to the Penguin?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I do!
I love the library! There is nothng like the feel of a good book in your hand…well,maybe there is,but I still like books XD

MilkyWay's avatar

YES yes yes! We still need libraries. I’m of the younger generation and I enjoy going to the libraries. In my opinion, the internet can never replace what a library has and that’s well, “hands on” information.

JilltheTooth's avatar

And let’s remember that the librarians, with their specialized education and abilities are a resource that can’t be duplicated on the internet. Even with all the “how to” information out there, I still want a qualified mechanic working on my car, a qualified electrician working on my house wiring, etc etc etc…

Blackberry's avatar

Yes, what’re you, crazy? Lol. Some of us still like books, not ereaders. And we also like reading books for free.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Libraries aren’t just book repositories anymore. They’ve quickly become centers of social and intellectual activities in towns, and for those who can’t afford internet it’s a place to get a reliable connection once in a while. And considering that plenty of books remain unscanned by Google, they’ll still have value as book repositories for a while.

LostInParadise's avatar

Libraries serve functions other than lending books. They have children’s programs and sometimes lectures for adults. They also provide a meeting place for many organizations. The public library in Princeton is an extreme example of what a library can provide. In addition to children’s programs and lectures, they show films and even had a complete environmental film series for free. Princeton, being a very wealthy town, is atypical, but it even libraries in poorer sections can provide a number of services.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Are libraries now obcelete and totally pointless compared to how useful they were before the internet existed? yes.

Should we keep libraries? yes.

1— Humanity needs a backup system for its computer stored knowledge.

2— Not everyone can afford a computer, much less the internet.

3— The internet does not come with an expert that has worked there for 27 years.

4— Libraries can share other resources and be used in other ways. As free internet provides, as research facilities, lecture halls and more.

5— Why would we get rid of technology that dragged humanity out of the darkness thousands of years ago, and served us well for millenia, in favor of another system that has only really been around about a decade or so.

Stinley's avatar

Libraries are places of learning and places for leisure. They still fulfill that function but need to make sure they don’t get left behind in the new world wide web order.

The answers mostly refer to public libraries – other libraries such as university, medical, law, where there is a strong need to be up to date with latest information and evidence and have an expert to guide you will not diminish. Indeed the sheer volume of this material means that such a guide (a librarian) is neccessary.

keobooks's avatar

Books seem to be what most people think of when they think libraries. That’s only one very small bit of what they give to the community. You can now check out or peruse magazines for free as well. You can check out movies for free. There is a huge free repository of audio books, both analog and electronic. You can check out music for free, digital and analog.

With the price of movie tickets going up, many people can’t afford to go anymore. But every library I know hosts at least one free movie night per week. Some host several per week for different tastes. These movies are usually first DVD releases and played out on large projector screens with free popcorn, soda and snacks.

There are homebound services for people too disabled to leave their houses. You may think these people could be more cheaply served with digital info piped in. But remember two things. Many of these people are senior citizens and aren’t tech savvy. Another thing to remember is that most of these servicess, the librarians don’t just drop off books, they stay for a while and talk to the people, touch them and spend just a little bit of time making them feel a little less isolated from the community.

Most libraries offer study rooms so people can get out of their homes and go work or study in peace without any distractions.

There are lots of classes that your library likely host. Everything from how to use new software to knitting.

There are lots of programs specific to children and teens. This offers a free and safe place for kids and parents to meet and get to know each other in the community.

Theres the good old summer reading program that most people don’t seem to even know about. At my library, if you read enough books, you can get tickets to a haunted house and the State fair. You can win raffles for ipods and gift certificates to businesses all over town.

You can get online for free and many people can’t afford this service. Also there are programs available that you can use that many people don’t have at home. Like at my library, the high school students can access Publisher, which many of the high school teachers require, but many people don’t have access to it at home.

There are many VERY expensive databases that you can access at the library which are way too expensive for any individual to have their own subscription to. There is a VAST amount of information that you will never find on Google. They are all available in massive digital databanks. There are periodical (newspaper and magazine) resources with every periodical you can imagine—the complete text in several formats—and every issue—most go as far back as 1976, but many go back to the VERY first issue of some magazies—like the 19th century. There are many other kinds of databases out there—but I have a baby at my feet so I can’t mention them all.

The reference librarians are amazing. Icould do an entire piece about them.

blueiiznh's avatar

Of course they are still needed.
Go into one and see how busy they are.
They offer much more than just books.
I pay an annual fee for access to a great one as a non resident.
They also usually offer good childrens programs.
If anyone is an avid reader it is key.
Does that question also apply to college libraries? Much more goes on there!

marinelife's avatar

Just the fact that we have easily googable questions come up on Fluther all the time tell me that we still need libraries. Just having information available does not mean that you know how to sort through it and find the right references.

Also, libraries provide Internet access for those that do not have it at home.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

Yes. I am addicted to being at the library. I go there around three times per week or so. And I really find it helpful.

marinelife's avatar

Corrections: tells not tell.

SuperMouse's avatar

Absolutely with 100% certainty we still need libraries. There is lots of information available on the Internet but there are still lots of folks who don’t have access to the internet. As a librarian I see members of the public use our computers and other resources every single day. Not only that but librarians are specially trained information specialists who can help people wade through all that stuff and help them become effective consumers of that information.

Public libraries not only have a huge collection of fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, music, and research materials available for anyone in the community to utilize, many of them have reading groups for kids and grown ups, events for toddlers, school aged children, young adults and even senior citizens.

In short Libraries Rock! Yes we still need libraries and librarians!

SuperMouse's avatar

I lurve, lurve, lurve all the jellies in this thread!

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m still pissed about the burning of the library at Alexandria. Just sayin’

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, we still need libraries. It saddens me to think they could ever possibly go away. Libraries are more than books, they have interent, magazines, story telling for children, and more. When my parents visit we go to the library together as a sort of ritual. My dad looks to see if he can buy any books for his business, my mom and I hang out in the medical section or the magazines.

When I need to research something, sure I can surf the net, but a librarian can point me in the most concise direction for what reference material will give me the best information. And, I can have confidence in the information.

Not everyone has a computer. If we took away libraries, the poor who cannot afford a computer or interent would be at a disadvantage for information in my opinion.

blueiiznh's avatar

Also. Library Science Degrees are a very desireable background by large corporations too.
Besides, librarians are hot!

MilkyWay's avatar

@blueiiznh ^tee hee

Hacksawhawk's avatar

Yes! For all the reasons mentioned above and because old books smell delicious! A computer doesn’t…

Stinley's avatar

@Hacksawhawk new books smell good too

jrpowell's avatar

Around 1999 I was on the verge of being homeless (we are talking days away) and needed a resume and I didn’t have a computer. I used the computer at the Library to get one together and the librarian was nice enough to help with spelling and grammar.

I still ended up homeless for a few weeks but the resume helped.

mattbrowne's avatar

Try to access your USB stick in 2050.

everephebe's avatar

Libraries are essential. Libraries will be serving their grand purpose for the rest of humanity’s existence, I hope. They are still very needed now. I use libraries for all sorts of reasons. In the future I imagine it will be more digitally oriented, for example you might be only allowed to check out 10–30 GBs at a time. Or perhaps libraries will use cloud computing as well.

I too am still upset about the burning of the library at Alexandra. When all libraries go, I’ll go too.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Yes. Especially libraries at school. I get the argument for not needing libraries housing copies of The Da Vinci Code much more than libraries letting students borrow a copy of Alcuin Blamires’ Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: An Anthology of Medieval Texts. I don’t agree, but I get it. Plus, school libraries let you access extremely expensive databases, when more students could afford maybe maybe one crappy database a year on their own. But @keobooks makes a really great case for needing the public ones as well.

Blueroses's avatar

I’m with everyone above and my first thought was the same as @Hacksawhawk.‘s If there is a heaven, it replicates that big old library I spent my summers in as a child. That smell… that quiet tranquility… those shelves of BOOKS!

There is something about turning pages that other hands have turned and absorbing words that other eyes have read that gives me a sense of kinship with humanity that can never be matched by reading a list of file names on an LCD screen.

ddude1116's avatar

I practically live at the library, it’s almost a dependency, now… So, yes, they are very much necessary.

janbb's avatar

Yay for all of you and especially @blueiiznh for saying librarians are hot! But y’all missed the most important reason – so that I can have a job!

blueiiznh's avatar

@janbb i need your assistance at the card catalog

bea2345's avatar

My fondest memories are of a summer spent in the public library in Macomb, Ill. I would sit in an armchair and all I read were thrillers. I had never seen so many at the same time in the same room. That was also the summer I researched cranberry husbandry, because my daughter and I saw fields being prepared for flooding for cranberries.

TheIntern55's avatar

In the summer, my family goes there to cool off, as our house doesn’t have a/c.

koanhead's avatar

Now more than ever.
I won’t go into great detail, since previous posters have pretty much covered the bases. I’ll just recommend this book called “This Book is Overdue!”

blueiiznh's avatar

OMG, I was just looking for a book here at home and found a Library book that was due Dec 23 1993.
I seriously need a Librarian now!

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

Oh by the way just letting you know lol. I was at the library 2 hours ago. And I am going again tomorrow.

jaytkay's avatar

My library is usually crowded, with both kids and adults. I am always so grateful for that, it makes me hopeful that libraries will survive.

6rant6's avatar

Digital books are much cheaper than hard books. If a library spends money making information available rather than making BOOKS per se available, people will get more.

Just because it’s nice (and I like the library, too) that’s not enough reason to spend public funds on it.

Berserker's avatar

Despite the advent of the internet, a lot of people still use libraries. Not everyone has the net. Libraries are also useful for that, most of them have free online access. (limited, but still, better than nothing for someone who really needs/wants to get online but can’t from home)
I love the library we have at uni, and my small town has quite a decent one. I don’t go all the time no, but often enough. I like books. I have a big collection, but then, libraries are a great way to experience and sample reading something one may not be sure they want to pay for yet. You know, like downloading music. XD
I also have problems reading huge online articles or stories, not sure why. I can’t get comfortable in my chair, and my eyes start to hurt after a bit. Books are much easier to get into, and they feel a lot more magical. I’m not entirely sure this is a valid incentive for championing libraries, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only who feels this way, according to all these answers.
Some people like the atmosphere of a library, and just hang out in there on Sunday afternoons, checking out books and stuff. I did that often some years ago. Someone mentioned kids. Valid again. I can’t add much to that subject since I don’t have kids, but everytime I hit the library, there’s always kids everywhere. They seem to love it most of the time, there has to be a valid reason why their parents take them there. When I was little my dad took me to the library every weekend, usually Saturday afternoon, and I always had a blast taking out books about insects and animals.
I must look like a goddamned creep these days, because more often than not, when I go to the library, I find myself in the children’s section, checking out comic books haha.

Personally I think libraries are also awesome as a cultural focal point for any community. Ours is small, but there’s always something going on in it. The town hall might be the heart, but the library is the soul, damnit. I can’t explain what I’m trying to explain, but yes, libraries are still needed, as are books.

laureth's avatar

Nobody has mentioned this, but I think it is important.

Yes, we have the Internet. But pages are revised and deleted every day. For example, you may remember reading, a few years back, something on the Heritage Foundation’s website about the Republican-backed “individual health insurance mandate” that they liked so much before Obama actually was able to get that done. As soon as it became “Obamacare,” the Heritage Foundation and other similar sites wiped their pages clean of any endorsements of similar plans and dumped those pixels right down the memory hole.

During the Bush era, there were times when the White House transcripts of press conferences would say one thing, and you’d go back later to look, and it was different. These are not just edited articles, these were supposedly word-for-word transcripts of what had been spoken aloud.

The thing I like about archived books is that they’re not so easily changed. You get to see what really was printed, not what was changed (with 20/20 hindsight) to match the “correct” outcome. If we don’t have that, we don’t really have history – we have what people think history should have been, or maybe a version of history that looks better.

The web is far too editable to be considered a library replacement.

janbb's avatar

@blueiiznh Are you saying you are looking for a hot librarian who will overlook an overdue book?

blueiiznh's avatar

@janbb no, i am well past amnesty day

flo's avatar

Yes. A lot of answers above have given the reason why.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
mattbrowne's avatar

A cheap digital book you can’t read in 2050 isn’t very helpful. I think for long-term archiving libraries turn towards microfilms which are cheaper than paper-based books and more durable. And all you need in the year 2200 is a magnifying glass.

6rant6's avatar

I still think all of these arguments in favor of books are focusing on small things and missing the big picture.

The reality is that people in 2050 will be most interested in reading things written in 2050. Much or most will never appear in hard copy. There’s no reason to assume that people 40 years from now will be so stupid that they don’t know how to convert digital formats.

And as for people changing websites – yes it happens and we must be watchful. But to saddle libraries with the task of holding incredible volumes of tree pulp just to catch the revisionists is insane when you weigh the opportunity cost. There are better technological solutions. It’s trivial for a computer system to compile a record of changes. That means that revisionists are more likely to be caught.

There is no way in hell my local library can afford to keep documents that it thinks I may want to go back and check against future revisions. Or forty year old books that are out of print. No way they can provide access to an equal amount of information in hard copy that they can provide in electronic form.

It was nice when we talked to a receptionist who wrote down our message when the person we called was out, when people left calligraphy-laden-notes, when dark rooms produced unexpected discoveries. But those things have been replaced by electronic means because the new ways are better and cheaper. So it will be with the pulp book.

For the price of ONE BOOK stored in a library, eReaders could be GIVEN to each patron, and they could have access through WIFI to resources that are massively superior to what a local library can provide.

I recommend thinking about what information you want your library to make available rather than worrying the format its in won’t fit your childhood memories.

GracieT's avatar

I just left my library. Yes, I’m on the web often and yes, I have an iPad, but NOTHING will ever take the place of a book. I still remember when I lived far (20+ miles) from an actual library but near a stop for the bookmobile. I used to beg my mother to go see the bookmobile when it was there. I remember being thrilled when I got my first library card and could take my bike to the bookmobile. I also still go, even now, to the library fairly often and think that life would be lost without libraries.

laureth's avatar

@6rant6 – There are, in fact, computer systems that catch revisionists. The website does a pretty good job of archiving the Internet, but it’s something that individual sites can easily opt out of. In fact, you can pretty much pinpoint the date that FoxNews realized it could opt out of being archived. ;)

I think what you’re missing, though, @6rant6, is that it doesn’t have to be either-or. Libraries are repositories of information. They don’t necessarily need to be on musty old paper. I bet people complained when they threw out the horde of moldering newspapers that were freshly preserved on microfilm, and they’ll complain again as the technology changes. What doesn’t change is that, no matter how it’s stored, we want to save lots of information, and libraries are, by definition, that place.

flo's avatar

To quote @laureth ”... it doesn’t have to be either-or.”

You can be dirt poor and be able to inform yourself with libraries.

It is a monopoly if there is only one option isn’t it? No industry should be able to obligate everyone to use their product.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (2points)
SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 we have books in our
library that are sixty or seventy years old that still circulate. Granted ours is a university library that serves scholars and researchers but I would argue that whether the information is current or not there is value to every single word of it.

chyna's avatar

Imagine no more signatures by revered authors, no more book signings and meeting the authors, imagine no more smell of books, imagine if you can. I can’t.

JilltheTooth's avatar

In the 50s people were convinced that the popularity of television would eradicate the radio industry. The fact that we have a new medium that changes the face of information retrieval does not mean that all other informational media will die out, it changes the dynamic and enhances the existing system.

janbb's avatar

Yes, libraries provide access to information and knowledge and the role of librarians is to aid in the finding and evaluation of materials. What the format of the material is is irrelevant.

6rant6's avatar

Yes, university libraries serve a different function than local libraries – which is why I made it quite clear I was talking about local libraries.

Even so, do you think (aside from the fact that the older books are assigned as required reading) students would prefer books twice as old as they are or access to a hundred books that are relatively new? It’s a no brainer. Electronic access gives many times more bang for the buck.

I don’t say we have to tear down the building with the word “Library” over the entrance. I’m just saying that treating it as a cathedral to a vanishing technology is misguided and romance-driven. Public money should be spent for what does the most good, not what makes the old people happiest. Put in the terminals; staff with clever people; move on.

janbb's avatar

@6rant6 Have you been in a library recently? The terminals are there as are the clever people.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@6rant6 : Follow @janbb ‘s suggestion and visit a library. Mine is fairly small, and I can visit the more esoteric pay websites that I’m not willing to pay for at home. The librarians have the training and savvy to guide me most efficiently to the information I need. And really, “Public money should be spent for what does the most good, not what makes the old people happiest.” is just a silly thing to say in this context.
BTW, just curious, at what age are we “old people”? I would like to categorize myself properly.

6rant6's avatar

@JilltheTooth I don’t understand your problem. You cite your library’s use of the solution I supported as if that somehow was in reply to my assertion that BOOKS are not what libraries should be most concerned about.

You tell me to go to a library? I find that extremely condescending.

You seem to be implying that I said that libraries should cease to exist. I didn’t. Reread my posts. My argument is with the preservation of the archaic role of libraries as keepers of pulp.

Yes, old people prefer hard copies to electronic sources. Are you saying that’s not the case? Or are you saying that I shouldn’t say it even though it’s true? Old is relative; I would have thought you could have worked that out on your own. Had I meant people over a certain age, I would have specified. I write what I mean.

flo's avatar

By the way it is not just old or older people who are not into computers.

@6rant6 who benefits financially if there were no more libraries?

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (2points)
SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 would it be fair to sum up your position by saying that unless libraries change with the times and adjust their collections and/or services to
fit the evolving needs of the
community they serve they run
the risk of becoming useless,
archaic relics of the past? If
that is your argument then I
agree whole-heartedly – with
one caveat. It is essential not
to get so focused on new
technology as to lose sight of
the library’s role as repository of so much archival material from books, to photographs to newspapers. While much of this information can now be accessed digitally, there is a value to having the actual object.

6rant6's avatar

@flo Another one! Do you people actually READ what I wrote? I said that libraries should change what they do.

And yes, it is PREDOMINATELY older people who are not into computers. That there are exceptions is not material. There are people in the US who speak only Tagalog. Would you say that we should have all materials available in Tagalog for their convenience? No, of course. You should do what does the most people the most good.

bea2345's avatar

If you want to see all the versions of The White Paper on CARICOM(1973–1978)_ you will have to visit Parliament Library in Port of Spain. I was the librarian in Parliament at the time and saw the number of times a single document could be revised, updated and re-distributed to Members in just one year. Each and every edition had to be separately catalogued and shelved. Online versions are not available at this time. My late father had copies of these and other documents: but that would hardly help people who need to see them but either did not know of my father’s collection or did not know him, period. That’s why we need libraries, @6rant6 . It will be at least a generation before we even begin the job of digitizing our records published before 2000.

And by the way, originals of legislation with holograph signatures of the Governors who assented to them can still be seen. After more than a century in a tropical climate, they are, or were, when I saw them last, in magnificent condition. Those papermakers knew what they were about.

6rant6's avatar

@SuperMouse I agree that there is value to archiving historical documents. However, most libraries should not be engaged in that. If the original is in the Library of Congress, what added value is there is a copy of the original being in my local branch?

Local libraries who archive on a small scale cannot do so as efficiently as Library of Congress or even university libraries.

In my town, the library once had an archive of local historic documents. They were in a cage in a room that was kept locked and “regular people” were not allowed to touch them. To me, that was not in the public interest to use the space that way.

The reality is that really precious documents need to be kept safe from casual use. Those documents need to be scanned and the scans made available to everyone – through electronic access. Duh.

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 I’m confused. Should your local library scan all those documents then shred them? Or scan them then send them to the Library of Congress for safe keeping?

bea2345's avatar

@6rant6Those documents need to be scanned and the scans made available to everyone: of course. But there are many places where the paper document is going to be in use for the foreseeable future. There is more to scanning than just passing a document through a high tech camera. The originals have to be found, assembled, identified and organized. In many cases they have to be repaired by skilled conservationists. And so on. I am by no means dissing the technology, I am merely pointing out that it is inaccessible or not usable at this time in many countries, including my own.

flo's avatar

@6rant6 Your OP does not say anything about change. (Edited) Sorry I just noticed it is not your OP.

Please answer the other thing.

who benefits financially if there were no more (Edited)books?
It is a monopoly if there is only one option isn’t it? No industry should be able to obligate everyone to use their product

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (0points)
JilltheTooth's avatar

Yes, @6rant6 , I read what you wrote. Did you read what I wrote? I feel that using a lot of public money to switch over to what you want would be a poor use of those moneys. The system is evolving, let it happen.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 Yes, we all read what you wrote. It does not mean we have to agree with it.
In my opinion you summed up your stance by saying just put in terminal, staff with clever people and move on.
The fact is that less and less public money has been going to Libraries over the years. The reality is that more and more people go to Libraries not out of nostalgia, but out of good common sense.
Making items available by digitizing it certainly is a good thing, makes it easier for getting it to the masses, and adds value. That hardly means the obsolescence of a Library.
The same argument can be made for the music industry. Yes, digitizing and downloading has made it easy and a way to reach the masses. Yes there has been a shrinkage in the amount of record/music stores. (You can’t fall in love with the girl at the record store like you used to). But those places of business and methods of getting music will not depart us either.

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh That analogy is so ill-fittting, I can’t even respond.

@bea I don’t even have to know what country you are in to know that the source documents that you refer to are categorically NOT available to people who go to local libraries. When did I say, “We should just be stupid and destroy everything that hasn’t been scanned”? The people in your country will be better off if money is spent to provide them access to THE THINGS THEY WANT TO READ than they will having people with degrees in library science and white cotton gloves congregating in rooms locked to the public for the purpose of venerating things so arcane that no one has every copied them.

@SuperMouse Again, focusing on a tiny issue to obsure the larger one. I don’t care what happens after the documents are scanned. You mention two ideas, they could also be put in a box in the back room of your library or housed regionally (say in a University library). It’s not important.

The point is that this 1% (less that that really) of source documents housed in MOST libraries has miniscule value compared with a recent works made available to hundreds of millions of people. I think much of this “love of books” is snobbishness – nothing more.

You all are linking these tasks done on a microscope scale or not at all in local libraries and pretending that it has something to do with keeping books on the shelves for patrons. They are unrelated. I’ll make it simple. You could keep all the books on the shelves and do none of the painstaking work of archiving at your local library. OR you could get rid of all the books on the shelves and keep the local archiving effort alive – maybe even bar patrons.

Archival activities and book stacks are not related.

My idea is stop buying books for the stacks (Notice I didn’t say burn them!) and instead pay to get access to information that people want because they can actually use it. I would have archiving done where they can do a good job and where they can make the results available to everyone.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 In my opinion your feedback of “That analogy is so ill-fittting, I can’t even respond” is a bit pompous.
While some people find no use for libraries, there are plenty who do.
So a few more reasons:
Not everything is available on the internet
Digital libraries are not the internet
The internet is not free
School libraries and librarians improve student test scores

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh Ah so have we uncovered something: “School libraries and librarians improve student test scores”!

You a stake holder here? You identify with this group?

Access to information improves student performance? Duh. School libraries closing because they cost too much? They sure are in my part of the world. Well how about providing access to more information for less money??? Duh.

“Not everything is available on the internet” I can’t tell if you are just being argumentative or you actually think this way. These school libraries… how much of the world’s recorded knowledge do they have on paper? Not all of it? Not half? Not 1/100 of 1 %? So that’s a reason not to have them? That’s an idiotic argument. How can we make the MOST information available at any single given library? It’s not even close.

There is no solution that provides all the information to all the people all the time. The issue is what is the best that we can do with the money available. These are fatuous reasons for preserving the status quo:

1. There is a source document somewhere in the world that would help you – if you happened to be at that library.
2. Librarians are good people. (Yes, and they shouldn’t spend their days looking for the missing volume of the encyclopedia, or repairing damaged pages, or reshelving, or stamping due dates inside covers.)
3. Some people prefer books. (Others don’t.)
4. If we didn’t have paper books, we wouldn’t archive documents. (Just not true.)

We should be encouraging libraries to transfer resources from paper books to electronic access because:

1. More people want the new stuff.
2. For a given dollar, more access can be purchased.
3. Documents which do not have mainstream approval/publishers can still get to people.
4. People who can’t get to physical libraries can still use electronic sources.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 Not a stake holder at all. I am in technology actually so if anything I would be pushing technology by your logic.

I agree with your last 4 bullet points, but it still does not mean the obsolescence of a Library.

I do think we can agree to disagree.

6rant6's avatar

Or you could read what I wrote.

You made up, “obsolescence of a Library.” I never said that. How many times do I have to deny your premise is mine????

I am against the preservation of book stacks. That’s it. That’s all. I am in favor of wider availability of information – presumably by technological means. That’s it, that’s all.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 I never implied you stated that. So sorry if you took it that way.
I have no issue with doing things smarter. I however do not think that Libraries are stacking any more books than they need to have. I suppose someone on this thread can offer a first hand account of how they aquire and stock based on demand or “some magic guess”.

flo's avatar

-Books can be made of different raw materials not just paper by the way.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
6rant6's avatar

@flo And we can build houses out of recycled bottles, but we don’t so what’s the point, exactly?

flo's avatar

@6rant6 If the environment is the problem, why not pursue other raw materials other than trees. But I don’t think the recycled bottles is an appropriate example. Edit my last post: ’.....pulp’ (not paper)

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
6rant6's avatar

@flo The ecology of book printing is a small problem relative to the need – particularly of the poor and young – to get access to information. If printing books would help them, I’d be all for it.

I’m guessing that books are printed on paper because it’s cheapest. If that’s true then any other method of production would exacerbate the problem.

bea2345's avatar

@6rant6I don’t even have to know what country you are in to know that the source documents that you refer to are categorically NOT available to people who go to local libraries: that is not strictly accurate, or to put it better, is somewhat misleading. There is a great deal of serious research going on in the West Indies as we speak, and much of it is done in the local libraries because the libraries of the universities and colleges are inaccessible to the general public. I was only making the point that some documents are simply not available to most people if there is no public library service. The White Paper was only a more notable example. Further, the public library provides access to documentation for us working stiffs who cannot afford subscriptions to the more expensive journals. You can access internationally rated databases from any wired public library in T&T..

Of course we make use of the technology, when resources are available, and not diverted from dull things like health, transportation and school buildings. But the widespread distribution of laptops to school children – begun in the academic year 2010–2011 in Trinidad and Tobago – has many disadvantages to overcome. Not all schools have a reliable electricity supply, and too many teachers have little idea how to incorporate the technology into school work. One child, when asked, said that yes, she used her laptop a lot “but not in school.” On the other hand if we waited until the technology was more suited to the environment, we would never get anywhere. Some people are considering the Kindle and similar machines. Perhaps a modified version would substitute for primary school textbooks – do you think the publishing fraternity would like that?

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 you have to take a bit of a step back from your statement about digitized vs book.
As all thes advances keep coming, the devices of the present quickly become relics of the past. Digital media and devices will not survive by accident.
If you leave a digital reading device in a tomb next to a rolled-up piece of papyrus, you can unroll the papyrus and engage with it in a way the you can’t with the digital reader, which requires you to bring other materials capable of allowing you to recover and read the data.

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh So you personally can read any scroll you find in the ground? Not hardly. But with the help of experts to help translate you can.

Am I the only person here who knows Google is digitalizing all books (although only publishing some)? Do you think they (or whoever succeeds them) will lose the ability to translate formats? That’s just silly.

The cost to reformat data – even in staggering amounts – is trivial compared to the cost of keeping local copies of data on paper.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 I hardly think that you (and I) are the only one here that knows about google or other organizations digitizing efforts. That’s just silly to think that.

This question is not about translation of languages, but I would imagine that the text used on a scroll and what is digitized at the same time is one in the same. So the feedback on transation (personal or not) has no meaning.

You are also missing one of the key items here. The various digitizing projects have to take into account the copyright law. These have been stumbling blocks for all digitizing projects and will continue to be.

You can’t profess giving something away for free that has copyright attached to it.

flutherother's avatar

The British Library has just signed a deal with Google to digitise some of its collection. It is quite feasible that everything in print could be digitised were it not for copyright issues as @blueiiznh said. I still have a fondness for the traditional library and I don’t think they are becoming extinct but their role is changing.

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh These are the cases:

Books published now – even those published 60 years ago. All in digital form somewhere. Even books ostensibly sold in hardcover only are made available digitally to the visually impaired.

Books out of copyright. These can all be digitized obviously. I would suggest that the bulk of “old important stuff” is in this category.

Documents that were never copyrighted (government publications, court transcripts, etc.) These can be digitized.

So what’s left – things that were not printed from digitized form and are still in copyright but not currently in print. It’s a small fraction of useful information and the fraction gets smaller every year.

I never said that anything would be given away, My suggestion was for libraries to spend money to obtain digital access.

I can’t understand the point you’re trying to about translations.

janbb's avatar

Libraries are spending more and more of their budgets for access to digital materials all the time. Of course, there will be a shift in focus from books to digitized formats as technology progresses. This doesn’t obviate the need for libraries as providers of access to information and knowledge material.

Stinley's avatar

@janbb Agreed. And librarians also have to teach the skills to both access and apply this knowledge

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 not for nothing, but you stated “For the price of ONE BOOK stored in a library, eReaders could be GIVEN to each patron, and they could have access through WIFI to resources that are massively superior to what a local library can provide”
@6rant6 the statement about translation was related to your reply “So you personally can read any scroll you find in the ground? Not hardly. But with the help of experts to help translate you can.”

Sorry you can’t follow your posts

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh Yes, digital access is much cheaper than buying, cataloging, maintaining and storing a book. That is my point. That’s not the same thing as saying I don’t understand that copyrighted materials cost money to read.

Re translation: I was responding to what you wrote: ” a tomb next to a rolled-up piece of papyrus, you can unroll the papyrus and engage with it in a way the you can’t with the digital reader.” My points were 1) YOU can’t read it. 2)The overwhelming majority of people will not have an opportunity to engage with any such document. It can only be in one place. Saving it for the few who can afford to travel to it rather than digitizing it is just wrong, in my book. Obviously digitizing and saving is the best option, but if you must chose, then digitizing it and throwing it away is better than saving it and making it unavailable to almost everyone.

chyna's avatar

@Grant Your first comment on this was the public money spent on libraries was a waste. The U.S. wastes far more money on such mundane things such as nuts and bolts, commodes that go into restrooms at the pentagon, etc. I find those things far more wasteful than money spent on libraries.
41 k spent on toilets
Nuts and bolts for 5k

6rant6's avatar

@chyna No, I said nothing like that. That is a flat out lie.

No one condones waste. You should check your sources before you take sides by the way. That $41,000 per toilet is – like your post – an attack substantiated on disinformation. This was actually the building of facilities that house the toilets, not paying for the toilets. From the real information:

“Built into a hillside with stunning views of Mt. McKinley, the low profile building is powered by self-produced hydroelectric and solar power. Tall windows along its face provide natural lighting. The earth that surrounds the center on three sides and a vegetated tundra-covered roof provide natural insulation. Biofiber countertops and a floor of post-consumer tire rubber invite visitors inside. But it is the restroom that astonishes. Dual flush, low-flow toilets, low-flow faucets and waterfree urinals in the middle of the wilderness save an amazing 40,000 gallons of water per unit per year while serving more than 1 million visitors a year!”

Note the part about serving a million people a year. Also note that it’s in a fragile ecology and so high tech was required to preserve it. Or are you one of those people who say, “Plaster my crap all over nature, I’m not going to pay a cent to keep it clean.” ?

chyna's avatar

Just because it’s nice (and I like the library, too) that’s not enough reason to spend public funds on it.

Your words I took as meaning you didn’t want to waste any more public funds on this. Sorry if I misread what you wrote.

6rant6's avatar

Let me make it plainer.

We must make choices as a society about how we spend money. Libraries are about access to information. We should make choices that provide the most efficient access to information for the greatest number. Whether there are buildings involved, or whether we call them “libraries” are issues to be decided rationally. I’m objecting to the notion that libraries as historically defined should be preserved as they are because they are “nice” or someone remembers spending their childhood in them. More specifically, the keeping of books on stacks is an outdated concept that fails local populations.

flutherother's avatar

@6rant6 There is more to libraries than ‘efficient access to information’. Libraries and books are sources of knowledge and understanding as well. The Internet is superb at providing information but not so good at giving a deeper understanding of a subject. The Internet and the printed word are two different mediums. They complement each other and I think we will need both for the foreseeable future.

6rant6's avatar

@flutherother It’s the stacks of books I say are unnecessary. “Books” are not the only source of “knowledge and information”. I want the information made more available. You’re not saying that there is more knowledge in a book than in an electronic file with the same info, are you?

On whether the librarians are worth their weight in salt, I have not offered an opinion. I have worked with some librarians, have counted some as friends. I would not want them to be out of work, but that doesn’t mean I think they should be guaranteed a job doing what doesn’t need to be done – buying, shelving, and cataloging books. As with any other public service job – if they aren’t worth anything then get rid of them. If they are worth something, they we need to weigh the cost to provide them verses the cost to provide other services.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oops, screwed up the post sorry. Original removed by me.

flutherother's avatar

@6rant6 It’s not just a question of information. Print and electronics are two different media organised and used in different ways. It’s not as simple as saying well we can digitise everything so let’s close all the libraries. Reading a book is a different, more absorbing experience than getting data from a screen and being among shelves of books is different from doing a search on the internet.

Libraries are changing there is no doubt about that but there is still a need for them in the age of computers. If all you want is ‘information’ then you can probably get by with the internet alone but there is more to libraries than that.

6rant6's avatar

@flutherother _“Reading a book is a different, more absorbing experience.” _ Certainly you see how subjective that assessment is. Many people would say that reading on line with live links and videos or pictures that can be enlarged is more absorbing.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 wonderful round and round on the variety of banter.
But, back to the OP – I still am of the opinion we still need libraries and they will not fall by the wayside for the variety of things stated here.

Lets all meet at the library and have a discussion on it. Maybe we can have a few “book of the week” discussions too.

janbb's avatar

@blueiiznh You warm this ol’ librarian’s heart.

flutherother's avatar

@6rant6 Online with live links, video and sound is great but these things also distract. Reading a book is a meeting of minds and stimulates the imagination far better than the online experience. (in my view)

chyna's avatar

@flutherother I totally agree. I can get lost in a book and with the images I come up with as to what the characters look like, their surroundings, their voices.

6rant6's avatar

@chyna So you can’t get lost in a movie?

@flutherother You don’t find “a meeting of the minds” and stimulation in the online experience at sites, like, I don’t know, Fluther?

JilltheTooth's avatar

It’s different, @6rant6 , but I’m guessing you know that already.

6rant6's avatar

@jillthetooth I think the core of the argument is that people who grew up reading books they held in their hands revere that experience. I don’t think people who grow up reading on Nooks or Kindles have any substantially different experience.

It’s like people who grew up using horses for transport said that cars would never be the same experience. But for those who grew up riding in cars, it was not close when it came to deciding which mode of transport worked the best for society (and books and ebooks are much more fungible than horses and cards)

JilltheTooth's avatar

I don’t agree that that is the core of the argument.
Your arguments all seem to be of the “DO IT RIGHT NOW” variety. I mentioned above that the process is evolving. No one is saying that information shouldn’t be digitized, we just see no reason that paper books should be eliminated right this instant, or in fact at all, and libraries (back to the original Q) should evolve acquire and maintain all sorts of media.

6rant6's avatar

@JilltheTooth Of course, transition is expensive and in the short run you need to be thoughtful. I never said get rid of books. What I said was don’t buy more. I’ll amend that here to say, “Don’t buy books where data access to the information can be made cheaper and broader by going e.”

JilltheTooth's avatar

So you’re not talking about libraries. You’re talking about the print publishing industry. Big diff.

chyna's avatar

@6rant6 Could you get any snarkier?

6rant6's avatar

@chyna, Yes. I’m actually working very hard to be moderate. No joke. Even rereading my last comment directed at you, I can’ see it as snarky. If I hurt your feelings, I am sorry. If I misunderstood your position, Well, then, that’s what your next post could clear up!

@JilltheTooth I think I’ve been pretty consistent throughout this question – saying print books were obsolete and that we should spend money elsewhere to provide access. I realize that the OP had another point in mind. It’s not mine.

laureth's avatar

For anyone still following this thread: I found this story today which might be a library that satisfies both sides of the conversation here. ;)

Stinley's avatar

just to keep this one going a bit longer….

here’s Phil Bradley – a UK information professional on the subject of librarians and google

6rant6's avatar

With all due respect, librarians are there to make money, too. And I’m sure that Google employees would say all those gratuitously wonderful things about their organization.

I used to work with reference librarians. Many of the questions they answered came via phone. I wonder how many of those answers they now find on Google. I’m guessing reference librarians would be the first to say, “Give me an electronic source please! It’s always where it belongs, it’s more up to date than our stacks, and I don’t have to use a step ladder.”

bea2345's avatar

It’s alarming, even if a little touching, and perhaps somewhat arrogant, this faith in technology. Outside the 300-mile limit, most of us are only too aware that everything can be swept away in the next earthquake or hurricane.

Stinley's avatar

@6rant6 I agree, few of us do the daily grind for no money but certainly for me it’s not the main motivation. I have a Masters degree but yet I earn far less than most with higher education. I earn just above the national average. This is not out of the ordinary for the library profession.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 you guessed about what a librarian would answer in “Give me an electronic source please! It’s always where it belongs, it’s more up to date than our stacks, and I don’t have to use a step ladder.”.
Why don’t you ask one. Where would you find a Librarian to ask this question if there were no Libraries?

You have really exposed one of the very reasons why Librarians and Libraries are really more important and needed now in an age of digital information.
Internet service is not free, nor are devices to access it.
Do you know how many people have little to no access to the internet outside of going to their library. Take a look at the area of a library that allows people access. Tell me how busy that area is.

Secondly, there is the issue of IT literacy. There is a common belief that once everyone has internet access, all problems relating to access to information will be solved. But it is not enough. There are still many users who cannot search the internet correctly and successfully. Some simply select the top result in Google rather than ensuring that their search terms are appropriate, and that the resource is reliable. It is not just the general public – even respected journalists seemingly fail to grasp the intricacies of search engines.

@6rant6 This thread has made me appreciate and realize even more why I love Libraries and the work of the Librarian. I thank you for that.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Until they have a standardized, fool-proof, never need a charge from an outside source, nearly impossible to break type of digital reader it’s just silly to demand that production be stopped on paper stuff. Go forth, @6rant6 , and invent that then we can argue intelligently about an end to non-digital print media.

janbb's avatar

@blueiiznh marry me!

flo's avatar

That was a home run @blueiiznh. Soooooo right.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
flo's avatar

There other home runs as well above…

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (0points)
6rant6's avatar

This basic idea that libraries serve as some kind of cataclysmic back up is flawed on two levels.

First, the tsunami or whatever that sweeps away our infrastructure will destroy libraries as well. If the books get wet on a large scale it’s game over. If society is coping with global chaos, our local libraries will not be kept open. That’s just a cartoonish idea.

Similarly the idea that somehow in the future we will lose the ability and will to transfer knowledge forward into the next technology and thereby lose it is not based in reality. If the information is valuable it will be brought forward. I think you are conflating your personal uncertainty with how you would deal with advancing formats with the idea that society won’t be able to deal with it. It just aint so. The notion that we have to solve all future problems now is not real, is it? In what other arena of human endeavor would you contend that all foreseeable problems must be conquered before we move forward? Silliness.

My sense is that people here just like libraries so much that they are not willing to face the inevitable evolution of them. Already, more than half of library expenditures in Canada are on electronic resources (I don’t know the numbers in the US). Apparently this gives rise to these unfounded scenarios in which the last copies of books are destroyed and also that we lose the ability to decode our digitized data. It’s magical thinking people.

It’s really not necessary for me to convince anyone this is going to happen, any more than it was necessary to convince the doubters that automotive transport would replace horses, or that voice mail would replace a receptionist writing messages, or that self-service would replace those nice Texaco men.

My suggestion would be to think about what really would do the greatest good for everyone and lobby for that. If you do that, you might have some influence. But to extoll the romance of second best technology is useless. Poetic perhaps, but useless.

I came across a scholarly article dealing with reading, including the history of ‘leisure reading’ and the ways our brains react to online and paper. Funny story: I sent the link to my SO who is as rabid a book lover as anyone here. As more or less predicted by the article, she skimmed the first part and closed it. Turns out that I’m the reader.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 sorry but I don’t follow your logic and how it relates to the OP. Tsunami’s, horses, wet books, global chaos?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Guess I better make sure my Nook is charged up and ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.

flutherother's avatar

It’s not really relevant but I thought some of you might find this news report amusing

JilltheTooth's avatar

@flutherother : That story comes up about every 10 to 15 years, in various places and it always cracks me up. The ones who want to ban never seem to appreciate the irony…

flutherother's avatar

@JilltheTooth “Thur’s no cause fur it bein’ read” – priceless.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Just seeing that gives me cause to re-read!!!

flutherother's avatar

Me too, I read it in my early twenties, a long time ago.

AshlynM's avatar

Yes, libraries are still needed. They’re the only place I know of where you can get books for free. While most of the information from the internet would probably be correct, it’s not a good idea to trust it completely. Books are more reliable for accurate information and you may find what you’re looking for in the library if you can’t find it online.

Plus, the library provides a great, quiet place to study if you can’t study at home.

blueiiznh's avatar

BTW, I went to the Library twice this week. It was awesome!

chyna's avatar

@blueiiznh I went once this week!

blueiiznh's avatar

@chyna Then I guess at least WE still need them.

6rant6's avatar

@AshlynM Books are available electronically – a great many more than your local library has.


If your local government owned and operated a water park, people would use it, would exercise and become more fit as a result of it. They would go twice a week and say it was awesome.It would do the community good. But that doesn’t mean that it should be preferred to something that costs less and delivers similar benefits – like a grassy park.

If your local government owned a funeral parlor where they allowed community residents to hold funeral services at no cost, that would clearly be a benefit to them. But that doesn’t mean that the government should provide a service when the market can provide the same service at similar cost.

What the function of government is may be open to debate, but clearly these are not sufficient reasons for spending public money on something:

You have fond memories of doing something as a child.
You will continue to use a service if it is free. I mean seriously, how high a bar is that?

If you are fond of books, then by all means buy them and keep them where you can look at them. Collect them all! Trade them with your friends!

I’d rather someone provide me with electronic access to high quality sources than someone keep racks of paper books – many of them too old to be of any value to ME. I assert that most people will reap more utility out of that. And it will be cheaper and MORE available.

I agree that there are people who lack electronic access at home, so providing them with a place where they can avail themselves of such access is a good idea – provided that it’s not exorbitantly expensive and that the majority of money doesn’t get siphoned off to pay for relics of history such as stacks. If you want to call an electronic-kiosk-housing-facility a library, then I support libraries.

__Oh, and there’s also the problem that some people who might use electronic access cannot travel to a library building.__

If you want to spend public money on making people more literate, give it to the schools.

blueiiznh's avatar

To your points:
There are a great many more books than ones available electronically.

Local governments do own water parks and people do go to them and think they are awesome.

Your funeral comment makes no sense. If something is done at zero cost, then similar cost would be zero. This is why there are zero private no cost libraries. There is no market for it.

The government cuts all the time and every penny is under public scrutiny. I guess Libraries pass the test.

If a person has fond memories of doing something as a child, they do continue to do that thing, free or otherwise.

Most people do buy books and trade them. It is a tangible object as opposed to the throw away model of buying an electronic book and deleting it.

I’d rather own a book that I want to keep or pass on, or loan it from the library. My choice and you can do your choice.

Please tell me where else you find free kiosk’s of PC with free access?

Of course there is an issue with some people having limited travel. There are also programs for that.

As listed in this whole thread, Libraries are more than books.

chyna's avatar

@blueiiznh Fantastic answer. Libraries are more than books. YES THEY ARE. They are a smell, a feel, a touch, a place, and most of all, fantastic librarians.

bea2345's avatar

Dear @6rant6 – a library is not merely a repository for books. For that, all you need is a warehouse. The function of the library is the provision of information. Information that is found in documents, whether on paper, canvas, wood, stone tablets and in electronic form. Information that can be turned into knowledge. For this you need some sort of organization that tells the reader (= searcher) where to start looking. That’s what libraries do, however small and poor the service.

Organizing collections is labour intensive and hence costs a lot of money. So public moneys have to be spent. While hospitals are necessary, and public recreational spaces essential, the knowledge to design, finance and maintain these services ultimately come from document collections. If all books were digitized, there would be still a need for my skills. Until they market a computer that can read, that is. Then I might be out of a job.

Without the habit of reading, people cannot access written information, so libraries are active in the encouragement of literacy and book usage. They also encourage reading for pleasure, since a habit that is enjoyed is learned and used. This is the reason that good collections always have more than their users can possibly read; “we don’t know what posterity wants to read and we can’t send it a questionnaire.”—-If somebody can trace that quotation I will be grateful. I came across it when I was at Aberystwyth back in the eighties, so are there any British librarians who know it?—

6rant6's avatar

I’m getting tired of repeating this, but I guess I have no choice.

I oppose book stacks. If you say libraries are more than that then great. We can talk about whether those things are more important for local governments to pay for than other things such as parks and schools.

@blueiiznh “There are a great many more books than ones available electronically.“This is not true. There may be more books that are not available to you electronically. Which is exactly my point – that libraries should spend money to make those electronic resources available, not maintain stacks of books printed 50 years ago.

@blueiiznh The cost to provide books in libraries in far from zero. Just because you’re not paying your share doesn’t mean there is no cost. One of the first rules of economics is that if you give something away, demand will be insatiable. I think what you mean is there is no fee associated with using the library. The community pays for it. 81% of libary expenditures come out of local government revenues and bond issues. That means that we are paying to have books in stacks rather than build theaters, or hire cops, or provide recreation for the majority of our kids.

You can like what you like. But that doesn’t mean it’s good public policy for the government to pay for it.

6rant6's avatar

Boston Public Library (largest public library in the US) has 6.1 million books. That’s in 25+ buildings, by the way.

You can search through 7 million books on Google books. So on pure volume, Google already wins. But it’s going to get much more lopsided.

“In 2010 Google estimated that there are about 130 million unique books in the world (129,864,880 to be exact), and that it intends to scan all of them by the end of the decade.
On October 14, 2010 Google announced that the number of scanned books is over 15 million.”

bea2345's avatar

@6rant6 – Nice, 15,000,000? Most of which are accessible because of people with library skills. Skills that involve finding, identifying, classifying data and making them known to the enquirer. The point is not whether or not to have the printed book, the point is whether or not to have libraries.

What I chiefly have against electronic media is that the sheer cost of maintaining the support systems will puts them out of reach of too many people. My concern is that a technology that is not universally accessible will reinforce social inequality. Indoor plumbing, for example, is still a luxury in some countries (let alone supplies of safe water)

The one advantage the traditional document has is this: all you need, really, is a good light. But there is more: how do you browse through Google the way you can browse the stacks? I would not like to give that up.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 I know about BPL and was there yesterday. It is always full of people and it really is an amazing facility providing so very much to the community.
The point to all this is not about volume or digitizing or economic models.

The point has been proven based on all the statements of volume and numbers that Libraries still serve a function and have become more viable no matter if data or books are available in digitized format.

flo's avatar

I hope this relates to this conversation. Doing a google search for the book Bagdad Cafe resulted in this:

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
mexpress's avatar

Yes… we may have advanced into the world of virtual libraries but I think we still need the ‘real’ libraries.

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh Really? Because something exists it needs to be perpetuated? That’s kind of backward thinking, isn’t it? That’s kind of the antithesis of progress, don’t you think?

You still have banks of phone operators in your town connecting callers to their destination? You still train astronauts? You still have newsies hawking papers on the streets? For that matter, you still have newspapers?

@bea2345 All you need is a good light and to be in the same town, building and stack as the book. Oh, and no one else can use it while you do. Kind of a shortcoming don’t you think?

bea2345's avatar

@6rant6 – Point taken. But only one person can read a Kindle at a time. Imagine a world where there is no paper, only machines.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 I don’t go to places to perpetuate them. If you have read all the posting, I go to it because it is of value to me. Please don’t cast words of your opinion onto others and their need or desire. That is what this open conversation is supposed to be about.

All those things you mentioned (phone switching, newspaper hawking and delivery, Space training,) still do exist. And they also spawn advances in technology and coexist.

Nobody here is disputing advancement in technologies and embracing the new. We however are answering the OP on why people simply do not just sweep things aside if there still is a value or service that exists in the current methodology that people want. It is an evolution and I think you are in denial for some reason that a Library can still has value for people. It may not be for you, but it is for others. We all have different needs.

flo's avatar

It would be better if a lot more people used public transit, car pools, order to save taxpayers’ money from going to prevent smog, etc. But there are too many people who can’‘t use public transit as much as some other people. We can’t advocate depriving them of their methods.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (0points)
atheist's avatar

I believe libraries will die out soon. There is no point in printing books when we can get up to date information on the internet. There is no point in spending so much on books when they will get outdated soon. The internet will make information accessible to everyone for free.

blueiiznh's avatar

Did instant coffee kill coffee?

New tehnologies change many things. But not everything.

Rather than being displaced by instant digital media, it would seem that Libraries compliment.

While sometimes the Internet and digital media can drowned out some things, is failry obvious. Libraries do what the Internet and digital media doesn’t. Books and Libraries are neither obsessed with the immediacy of the information or swift cycles of digital, but promote a deeper connection. They create a relationship. They engage us in ways distinctly different from digital media.

blueiiznh's avatar

@atheist as listed in this thread, where can you get it for free?
You need a device, a pc, connection to the internet, software, hardware.
Oh wait, where would you go if you want to get on the internet and read or research for free if you don’t have those? Ahhh, you go to the Library!

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh You still miss the most basic fact. Libraries are not free. It’s just that YOU don’t pay for them. Yes, anything you can get for free you’d like.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 I dont think I am missing much of anything. The question is relative to Libraries being needed or not due to other means of information.
The Library does not charge a fee to people in the town. They do not charge a fee to use it.
You can’t opt out and get a break. It is part of the infrastructure just like the schools, police and fire department.
Again, you are missing the point and putting words in my mouth. I don’t like Libraries because they are free. I actually pay a fee to be a member of another towns library so I can get more Library!
The point of my comment on free was in relation to others (including yourself) stating available data is free for the downloading. That also is not free.

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh My local government does not pay so that I can download information. I do pay for my downloads, minimally, trivially. Keeping stacks of books is expensive. I would rather they pay for access to information rather than house books – most useless to me.

If you want to pay for a private library, that’s fine by me. I don’t even mind being part of the payers, but at least make the delivery system the most efficient possible, not the most beloved by 1% of the population.

No one has given a societal reason for governments paying for stacks of books kept in local libraries. Their arguments, like yours, are flavors of “Libraries are needed [because] I like libraries.” The that we won’t be able to convert digital formats is fatuous at best (and moronic at worst). We will.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@6rant6 : Can you please cite where you got the figure of “1%” for the statement ”...most beloved by 1% of the population.”?

flo's avatar

@6rant6 how about the 3rd paragraph in @blueiiznh ‘s post Secondly, there is the issue of IT literacy. ...” Here

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (0points)
6rant6's avatar

@flo What third paragraph? And what about it?

And as for the link, if I wanted to read stuff that I don’t want to read, I could go to the library.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 Just because you do not want the Library to house books does not mean the rest of us want for that. That is what this whole dialogue has been about. Please understand that you can have your opinion, but others can also.
My Library does offer digital download and books.
I hardly think 99% of the population choose digital over paper. Most statistics show 50/50 based on volume.
Can you elaborate on your statement of 1% please. I would hate to assume any information.

I think many here have made valid points to why Libraries still exist. Can you please provide some valid reasons and proof that Libraries will not exist?

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh “want for that?”

I hardly need to continue with this. It’s not a question of what either of us prefer. It’s what is happening. Your uncited 50/50 statistic – wherever it’s from – undoubtedly comes in the middle of a strong upward trend in favor of digital which any reasonable person would project to continue. I’m not asking you to be reasonable. You can hold your breath and turn blue, but it won’t change anything.

Come back in 15 years and these posts extolling the virtues of book stacks will be revealed to be as backward thinking as those editorials in the early part of the 20th century which declaimed the automobile in favor of the trusty horse.

If you can’t see the writing on the walls, then I suppose, it’s good you have your hardcovers for now.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 Here is one for you.
There have also been other statements that you have chosen to not answer or backup in the coarse of this thread. Can you be so kind as to back up you 1% statement?
While your Nostradamus prediction holds value in the book sales industry as a whole, it still does not provide concrete evidence of the demise of the Library.

6rant6's avatar

@blueiiznh My points relate to books stacks, not “libraries.” I guess you are impervious to the distinction.

Evidence is something that reflects what happened in the past. Libraries are not gone, so there is no evidence they are gone. Trends on the other hand indicate what is happening. People buy more e-books than tree pulp books. And the trend indicates that revolution is ongoing.

No, I won’t spend any time on 1%. Or “beloved.” Nor will I explain the cost of libraries to you. Maybe you can find someone at the library to explain it to you.

blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 Can you please cite where you got the figure of “1%” for the statement ”...most beloved by 1% of the population.”?

You have proved your point. Thank You.

flo's avatar

@6rant6 I was giving the permalink for @blueiiznh‘s post many posts ago. My bad. Let me redo it.
How about the 3rd paragraph in @blueiiznh ‘s post: “Secondly, there is the issue of IT literacy. ...” here

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
flo's avatar

@6rant6 Your If you want to pay for a private library, that’s fine by me. I don’t even mind being part of the payers, but at least make the delivery system the most efficient possible, not the most beloved by 1% of the population.
1)You want even private libraries to only have E-books?
2) and re. not the most beloved by 1% of the population, if you go by the population of this thread, do you see it as 1%?

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
JilltheTooth's avatar

@flo : Good luck with the whole “1%” thing. I tried, @blueiiznh tried, but @6rant6 doesn’t seem to feel he should back up his statements.

6rant6's avatar

@flo You think you’re representative?

1. You have time to do this.
2. You are on Fluther.
3. You are following a question about libraries.

Yes, you’ve all fastened to my use of “1%” as if disproving that would somehow add weight to your cause. Your cause – the perpetuation of dead tree books in libraries is dead. I don’t need to prove it.

flo's avatar

@6rant6 @6rant6
1) Your cause – the perpetuation of dead tree books in libraries is dead I did post somewhere here re. raw materia/s other than trees, which you responded by “I don’t have any objection to that” or words to that effect. So, I am not fastened at all. And why are you only addressing one person about that? when @JilltheTooth and @blueiiznh have asked you the same thing?
2) Re. 1. You have time to do this.2. You are on Fluther_3. You are following a question about libraries, so are you. And you are the one who brought up the percentage thing.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (2points)
JilltheTooth's avatar

How silly you sound, @6rant6 , to keep carrying on about eradicating one format in favor of another. Your absolute digital library is as vulnerable in its way as you claim a paper library is. You keep accusing us of being hidebound, yet many above have supported a digital format as well as the paper format, while you keep arguing for only the one. Have a paperless life, good for you, aren’t you terribly evolved, but I don’t think you’ll convince many to completely abandon everything else right now !

This is silly. I’m out.

flo's avatar

I wonder if would be advisable for the whole world to go nuclear energy for example. I’m not sure if this is a good analogy or not.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
flo's avatar

@JilltheTooth don’t be out in case @6rant6 sees the light.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
blueiiznh's avatar

@6rant6 The retort of… “Yes, you’ve all fastened to my use of “1%” as if disproving that would somehow add weight to your cause. Your cause – the perpetuation of dead tree books in libraries is dead. I don’t need to prove it.” .....only solidifies that your points have no substance. By not providing a basis it actually negates any weight to your cause.

Anyone can perpetuate an argument with what appear to be wild ass statements.
@6rant6 You asked me to provide a source for my 50/50 statement coincidently right after several people asked you to provide backing of your 1% statement.

It is your choice to not provide some backing to your statements when asked. Otherwise, it more or less resembles Monty Python’s I’m not arguing, I’m just contradicting.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@SuperMouse : I’ve never loved you more than I do right now.

janbb's avatar

@Mousie Love it and have reposted it on G+ and FB.

SuperMouse's avatar

@janbb I had it on my facebook page then I realized my 12 and 11 year-old are friends, didn’t want them to see that from their mommy! LOL! I need to find another one that uses language that is slightly less vulgar.

janbb's avatar

@SuperMouse I understand completely but that is what makes it so much fun! Luckily, my guys are 28 and 31!

blueiiznh's avatar

@SuperMouse that is awesome! I have to admit I was a bit worried that this one sprouted legs again.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@blueiiznh : I know right? I was wincing and had one eye squinched shut when it reappeared…

6rant6's avatar

If you all want libraries so bad, then pay for your own. You can fill them with copies of Life magazine from 1958 for all I care.

My point is that local governments can provide service to more people for less money by having electronic libraries. They shouldn’t pay for your hobby when they can’t afford homeless shelters, code inspectors, or public art.

What makes you think you should get what you want just because you are willing to be rude claiming it? Not how it works for others.


JilltheTooth's avatar

<rubs cheek> Oh, chastened am I.

SuperMouse's avatar

@6rant6 it is a joke. Lighten. Up.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

I deal in and collect antique books… I believe that books will always be more important than any electronic garbage they come out with with the look of an Ipad and the guts of a Teddy Ruxpin to make life supposedly “easier”

blah, yuck, gross. Give me the look, the feel and the smell of an old musty book any old day of the week. Libraries must NEVER go away!

Besides what’s the alternative, public charging stations for the Nook?

flo's avatar

@6rant6 you tackle my last 2 posts if you can.

Did you all get notification of “new response”, “new activity”, “activity for you”, 2 months ago for @blueiiznh ‘s answer?:

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
6rant6's avatar

@flo your last two posts don’t say anything. I’m not going to make up an argument for you just to refute it.

Most of us will outlive paper libraries. It doesn’t matter that you really, really like them. They cost too much to deliver information. Most of the world doesn’t want books. It wants information. It doesn’t matter what you __want__.

augustlan's avatar

@SuperMouse I totally stole that for my FB. My kids already know I have a potty mouth!

bea2345's avatar

@6rant6Most of us will outlive paper libraries.: well, actually, probably not. Paper will be around for some time if only because the infrastructure for completely electronic books is way beyond many countries’ budgets. It is difficult to conceive of complete electronic coverage in a country where indoor plumbing is not a given the further away from the metropole; let alone electric and telephone connections. BTW Sierra Leone is only now getting internet connectivity via fibre optic cable. Previously, all communications were through satellite, which was expensive and unreliable.

6rant6's avatar

@bea2345 But those countries do not have locally supported libraries! It will be a thousand times cheaper to build the telecom infrastructure than to build buildings, buy books, train librarians. Plus, in unstable countries like Sierra Leon, libraries are subject to instant destruction. Google, Amazon, and the Harvard library are not.

Also, reading as a pastime is not popular outside Europe, North America, and Japan. So I’m guessing they’ll spend money for schools and hospitals before they spend for libraries.

bea2345's avatar

@6rant6 – Sure, access to the collections of the developed world is key to Third World development, especially if it is electronic. But our development depends primarily upon our own documentation and nearly all of it is on paper. A textbook on plumbing, published in Chicago is fine; you will find such in most tertiary engineering faculties. But you will need the manuals written for the engineer working in the Congo, for the Barbadian electrician, etc. because tropical environments are different, very different. A handbook published on the topic, “What to do when there is no doctor” is simply not available online if you are up a forest track in Venezuela – by the bye, there is a book with that title – or wherever there is no connectivity.

Further, in developing societies, one becomes technology-dependent very quickly. I remember the scream of anguish that went up from every single hall of residence at the university in Mona, Jamaica, when the electricity went at night: nobody could see to study. My mother’s generation studied by candlelight and kerosene lantern. If you have been accustomed to electricity since babyhood, candles don’t cut it. Not that I wish to go back to those days: I don’t. But I think the way we are doing it now will work best for us in the long run. We will continue to have our paper based collections, where the acquisition and management of locally produced materials (almost all on paper) is one of the most important duties of the librarian. Alongside that, the younger generation is being taught the use of electronic equipment: laptops are given to every child entering the secondary school at age eleven; practically everybody has internet access either at work or in a cyber cafe (a booming secondary industry). Of course we make mistakes. But this way we will acquire the knowledge we need to set up the systems that will suit us. Already software developers are creating systems for Third World realities. We are even creating our own.

6rant6's avatar

“our own documentation and nearly all of it is on paper” Not true. More books are published electronically than on paper. We reached the crossover two years ago. And of course, there is an astounding amount of stuff on the internet that is not in book form. Start with all of youTube for example. Bibliophiles notwithstanding, I am confident when most people want to know how to do something they look first for a video that explains it. Yes, yes, there are some things they would want text, but even for those having current information is superior to having printed information. And the internet has “current” all over the library.

The argument that you can read books without electricity is kind of desperate. Because:
1. Libraries will not be open if the power is off.
2. People do not read books by candlelight if there are no electric lights.
3. In developed countries, the availability of electricity is way more than 99%. Why would you choose a technology on the basis of a tiny exception?
4. People in developing countries use phones to access information. That does not depend on general electricity availability.

Here’s a simple test: will electronic access be more readily available than library access to books? Of course. Electronic access is 24 hours a day. In our city, the library is only open twenty hours __a week__. And in developing countries, where there are effectively NO libraries, the difference is greater still.

flo's avatar

which says should we put every egg in one basket? What did the Fukushima disaster teach us?

See, That is not an arguement.

And is the only way to help the planet by not cutting trees?
How many other ways are we being insanely reckless about everything else?

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (2points)
6rant6's avatar

@flo I get it. You like libraries.

Your posts don’t make any argument. You don’t really say anything. You just say, “How about this?” What is it you want me to respond to? Have you actually thought this through? If you have, then tell me what it is you have thought.

Here’s one post:
1)You want even private libraries to only have E-books?
2) and re. not the most beloved by 1% of the population, if you go by the population of this thread, do you see it as 1%?

I can’t even tell if you are asking or telling me what I want. In fact I said you can do anything in private libraries you want to. How clear can I be? It is the public funded LOCAL libraries which I think will and should eventually get rid of stacks.

I’ve already responded to your 1% fixation. Why bring it up again?

As for nuclear energy…that’s just so bizarre and applicable, that I can’t respond unless you can tell me what the hell you think is applicable. By the way, one of the things that we learned from the disaster, is the libraries can be destroyed. But people with phones can still get information.

flo's avatar

@6rant6 you are advocating for accomodating only the segment of the population that you belong to, never mind everyone else.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (2points)
flo's avatar

@6rant6 You’re right about the 1)You want even private libraries to only have E-books?. You never wrote that.

Re. You just say, “How about this?” where did I just write that? Why not post the permalink and the paragragh?

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (0points)
blueiiznh's avatar

@flo there are plenty of individual quips that have been put out all in good faith for this discussion that @6rant6 chooses to not answer.
My heart effort and energy have been put into this question and I came to realize that @6rant6 simply chooses to make one point and not answer/argue to opposing side.
I wish you well on this discussion. My points are out there for @6rant6 to answer if they choose.

flo's avatar

@blueiiznh that is true, my favorites is ’this it is endless how many things @6rant6 has not responded to. Thank goodness for the rest of you.

@6rant6 from your 2nd to last post:
-’’’The argument that you can read books without electricity is kind of desperate. Because:
1. Libraries will not be open if the power is off’’.
All you need is sunlight to read a book is the idea.

-You haven’t respond to the “1%”.

Also this is another thing. Shouldn’t the google search let me know there is a book, not just film. Why does anyone need to go to Amazon just to find out that there is a book. And even then you get scammed. See this

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
blueiiznh's avatar

I agree @flo and I also do not think that just because there are digital versions of books that the significant meaning and function of the buildings are going away soon.
British Library
Maybe the GLOW project
There are so many that are architectural marvels.

6rant6's avatar

@flo @blueiiznh You make a lovely pair.

flo's avatar

@blueiiznh great post as usual.

@6rant6 you have had so many opportunities to copy and paste your response to the 1% case we’re just blind.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
blueiiznh's avatar

Yes @flo & @blueiiznh make a lovely pair that beats 3 of a kind
I can’t wait for March 1 which is International Hug a Librarian Day!!!! I promise to ask first and be quiet while I hug.

Mantralantis's avatar


janbb's avatar

@blueiiznh Where are we going to meet up on March 1?

flo's avatar

By the way @6rant6 you flatter me when you pair me with @blueiiznh

@blueiiznh Nice to know librarians are not unappreciated, they have their own day! Love it.

My point is that local governments can provide service to more people for less money by having electronic libraries. They shouldn’t pay for your hobby when they can’t afford homeless shelters, code inspectors, or public art.

Please tell us about all the additional ways of saving the environment.Can you think other ways the taxpayers $ be redirected to homeless shelters etc.? I happen to know of someone who is a committed carnivore, (hates the talk of the methane problem) vetetarians are enemy number one, car pooling, lets the clean water go down the drain while scrubbing and car his driveway, doesn’t recycle, drives major gas gazzler polluters, but pushes the e-books only concept. Are you one of those? Should only the others do all the sacrificing? I hope not.

flo (13313points)“Great Answer” (1points)
blueiiznh's avatar

@janbb silly, at the Library of course

janbb's avatar

@blueiiznh BPL? NPL? LAPL? SFPL? MCL? Or all of them?

blueiiznh's avatar

@janbb I was going to say the Library of Ashurbanipal or the House of Wisdom or even the Libary at Ugarit. But sadly some did not think they were important enough to preserve of they have been destroyed.

I am closest to BPL, but next to this book figure would be fitting.

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