Normally, I’d say that the impact of eReaders like the Amazon Kindle Fire HD are minimal at first, but that it could become more crucial in the future.
Over the short term, the rise of eReaders can probably enhance a library’s lending capacity a thousandfold.
Once you’ll permit me to make use of an example from my very own life, my girlfriend and I a short time ago talked about getting a pet tortoise. Then again, we didn’t wish to go in not ready, so we attended our local library in search of a book that would outline exactly what care a tortoise involves (and what it would cost to provide said care). Sadly, the library did not possess the book we required. We ordered it from another branch, but 5 tortoise-free weeks later, we’re still waiting.
If our library would loan us the tortoise book as a digital copy that I could peruse on an Kindle fire hd, Apple iPad or Kindle Paperwhite, the entire disorder could easily be prevented. So, on the short term, the possibility is positive, as libraries could store less in-demand books digitally and rent them out without difficulty.
Over the long term, however, I’d be worried that ebooks would turn into the norm knowning that paper books will be increasingly seen as passé and archaic with the public. This will cause books being pulped in large numbers (backed with the noticeable environmental benefits of a lesser amount of paper being printed) until books eventually became a collectable, elitist thing, which would be pretty awful.
It feels like science fiction and optimistically the greater intense elements of it won’t come to pass, but the rest is maddeningly believable if you study present trends.
However, libraries do tend to work as more resource centred as of late as well as the library continues to be an important centre of cultural and historic advice, as well as a much-loved public gathering place. The British library has moved with the times reasonably well, at least up until now.
To some degree, we’ll always have books; it is just a matter of how many.
To quote American Clergyman Henry Ward Beecher,
“A library isn’t a luxury, but one of our necessities of life”
In my opinion, the largest threat to Britain’s libraries is not the relentless advance of recent tech, however. The biggest threat to that holiness of our written word could be the current Government, an institution which seems to think that we, as a country can’t afford to hold our libraries open (they cost about £1bn a year to run), but can spend £10million on a public funeral that 60% of us believe to be pointless. That’s enough to keep 10+ local libraries open, serving their communities and running at optimum proficiency all year round. I do not mean to jump on my soapbox here, but you’ve got to admit that it’s something of a damning indictment if you’re a fan of the printed word.
If this unique trend continues, we could find ourselves in a similar boat as Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who, in 1832 wrote,
“What a sad want I’m in of libraries, of books to assemble facts from! Why is there not a Majesty’s library in every county town? There’s a Majesty’s jail and gallows in every one.”
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