I recently read an article in my small town newspaper that our local library is getting ready to sell a $2,000,000 bond to increase and modernize its building space. This took me somewhat by surprise. In the age of budget cuts and downsizing it seemed strange that a library would get more funding when they say we don’t have enough to even fix our potholes on my county road. But then again bonds are something to be paid off in the future so the current public office holders don’t worry about them much. In this electronic age where Wikipedia is a couple of button pushes away and e-books are now outselling the paper copies aren’t libraries kind of like horse and buggy shops of a century ago? I have to admit that it has been several years since I have been in our local library. But when I started investigating, on-line of course this topic I learned some new things. Here is a little about what Wiki says about the trends in library usage.
With over 17,000 libraries and 2.5 billion materials circulated annually in the United States alone, libraries are frequently used and highly valued by the public. However, as libraries modernize, they face an increasingly harsh budget environment, as well as technological disruption in media, scholarship, and education. The political, social and technological environment is one of transformation and uncertainty….
Concerns about a general decline in library usage have proven to be unfounded. Instead, the impact of technology on libraries has been mixed. While usage of some library services, such as reference assistance, has declined, there has been a well-documented increase in the usage of public libraries in the U.S. and Canada over the last decade. Most libraries have added services such as public computers, free wifi, and digital materials such as web sites and e-books, leading to higher overall usage of the library. Counties and cities also continue to invest in library infrastructure. As of 2012, library construction and renovation has remained steady……
It sounds like libraries are morphing into more of community resource centers than they are about housing dusty old books. For my local library in particular, a big part of it is about providing Internet access to over 60% of our county population. AT&T, which is the primary internet provider in our area will not spend the money to upgrade infrastructure that would allow more of our citizens Internet access beyond a snail’s pace. That is one of the things I really hope gets implemented in President Obama’s State of the Union address. Let the FCC force all those communications providers to give us folks in rural areas Internet access similar to what they have in the cities. It is probably the only way it will happen.
Getting back on topic, I kind of think the word “library” is too 20th century, we should start calling them community resource centers? It does have a nice ring to it doesn’t it?