Should libraries be obsolete?

books on bookshelves

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Let’s get real for a sec, shall we?

Just yesterday I tried to download an audio book on an app that the local library uses. Sure, it’s been more than a year since I used my library card, but that shouldn’t really matter right? Nope. Turns out my library card has expired (it has to be renewed every year) and I can’t just do that over the phone. I have to show up and show them my picture ID. Really? Do we really need to be that rigorous in our library security?

That got me thinking? Should we really need a “membership” to access a library? I mean, in the practical sense, yes I understand they want to make sure books are returned and they can collect fees if they are not, but when it comes right down to it, is it really necessary? But I only consume audio-books and the only time I have stepped foot, literally, in a library is to renew the stupid card. That is absurd and impractical if you ask me.

There is a wealth of information on the internet and most of it is controlled by memberships via electronic registrations and whatnot. Can’t a library be like that also? Netflix, Amazon, Pandora, and a whole host of other companies/institutions have memberships all generated electronically and it seems like it is a fairly efficient way to deliver content to consumers. So why can’t a library do the same thing?

Does a library really need to be the gatekeeper for information access? I don’t think so. That’s why I have said many times in the past that libraries are kind of a waste of space. Sure, it’s nice to hold a book once in a while. Yes, it does take some getting used to consuming what is normally “printed” data via an electronic source. I get that some people prefer to do it the “old-fashioned” way.

So, readers? What say, ye? Do we need libraries or can we (better yet, should we) do away with them?

6 comments

  1. In Hong Kong, library cards don’t expire.

    Libraries have been the backbones of civilizations. Many of the “greats” we know today won’t become who they were if not for libraries as books were rare and expensive in the past.

    Today, we have internet and online databases. So, one can make an arguments that those were enough. However, it’s difficult for people to develop in-depth research skills if they only do research on the web.

    Doing research in a library with only the librarian and the catalog as your guide will make you learn invaluable lessons that you won’t ever learn online.

    1. Research skills are definitely lacking these days, so that is a good point. But, as time goes, wouldn’t that also improve as we learn and adapt, and more material is available online?

  2. Interesting…
    For some reason I have bells clanging in my head that somewhere I have read about some kind of format – be it amazon or kindle – that can have an unlimited usage of e-books. I’m sure this would relate to audio books as well. Might be worth looking into?

    1. I have looked on Amazon. They can connect you with Audible, but it isn’t included in part of the regular Prime access. Which sucks because you would thing the world’s largest purveyor of books would have figured out their own subscription thing. So, I guess a trek to the library is all I can do at this point.

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