Becoming Professional: A Blog

The Library Isn’t Dead Yet

Posted on: June 12, 2011

a gun around the word library

by BryanAlexander on Flickr

I love libraries. The idea that I can go into a big building, wonder the book shelves and then pull a random book and learn about something entirely new just makes me giggle. I love books. But these types of libraries are going the way of the dinosaur. We don’t need to go into libraries anymore. I haven’t since I was in undergrad doing esoteric research on corporate culture. For anything short of books published in the 1960’s, you can probably find all the information you’ll need online. And by now, those 1960’s books are probably scanned in, as well.

This reasoning, that everything is now available online, is what is jeopardizing the jobs of 86 Californian teacher-librarians. Basically, the schools are running out of money and need to get rid of something – and libraries are it.

computers in a library

by CCAC North Library on Flickr

The thing is, if they classify these librarians as teachers, then, as teachers, they will get all the rights associated with their seniority, and can’t be fired quite so easily as just delivering pink slips. They would be able to transfer to other positions as classroom teachers. So, the argument going on in LA is whether or not a librarian is a teacher, and the questions they’re asking seem to revolve around whether or not they take attendance or similarly nit-picky details that do not prove anything.

This reasoning misses the point of what a library really is, because libraries should be the last thing they get rid of. A library is not just a place where information is stored. It is a place where research skills are learned. I remember once asking my mother what a librarian did. She replied: “They teach you how to find information.”

When Seth Godin sketched out his view of the perfect future library, he said:

The next library is a house for the librarian with the guts to invite kids in to teach them how to get better grades while doing less grunt work. And to teach them how to use a soldering iron or take apart something with no user serviceable parts inside. And even to challenge them to teach classes on their passions, merely because it’s fun. This librarian takes responsibility/blame for any kid who manages to graduate from school without being a first-rate data shark.

student and teacher

by Wonderlane on Flickr (Not Bernier)

Well, Seth, this library is already here. Okay, maybe not the soldering iron bit, but that is what librarians like, Rosemarie Bernier, do. She teaches her high school and middle school students how to find information online, how to tell if information is useful, and how to simply access the web. For instance, when I was in high school, I participated in library clubs, including an anime club and a writer’s workshop.

Librarians help student learn how to take this wealth of information online and make sense of it. Yes, the tools are all there, and if you know what you’re looking at it’s easy. Not everyone can read between the lines and sense the bias in a CEO’s discussion of Global Warming on his blog versus an LA Times’ journalist’s discussion on her blog. People need to learn these things. If it came naturally then scholars would not be so highly regarded. Librarians teach how to be a scholar, and this is not something easily picked up in a classroom. Classroom teachers are already too busy teaching where to put punctuation. They can’t be expected to do everything.

And then there is that second function of a library as community center. A library becomes a place where people can learn not just about the mechanics of information but also about society. It puts the information at people’s fingertips, no matter their age, and then provides them a playing ground to practice what they have learned.

Yes, paper books might not be around much longer – not as we know them – but the library still has a place.

116 Responses to "The Library Isn’t Dead Yet"

Thanks for the piece, Kate. I can assure you, librarians do appreciate people who understand why we’re here. Congrats on the FP!

They have all my support! And getting on the FP is just eye-popping for me! Thanks!

Ditto what Andrew said. Being someone who works at my local library it really makes me feel good knowing that there are still people out there who appreciate what we do. Also, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

A library is such a place of comfort and consistency. Although our small-town library is tiny, it’s always full of children needing something to do on these summer days. Glad it isn’t dead yet!

When I was a kid, I loved to go through the Summer Reading Challenge at my local library. I read non-stop anyway, so it was a great way to find new books and earn prizes. I’m all for children being in libraries!

My wife’s coworkers were talking about Kindles the other week and she pulled out her library card and said look this is free. We use the library all the time. Not just for books but for DVDs and for a long time we used it for the Internet. Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

Libraries are great places to find all sorts of things. I like how you can always get the Internet there. When I was in France, it took me forever to figure out how to get the Internet at my house. Without the nearby library I would have been in big trouble!

I recently had the opportunity to bring my kids to the library I visited while growing up … and the same librarian was still there. I LOVED that!



Perhaps paper books will continue to survive because of the little libraries of donated books around the world. When I lived in the Middle East, we had a library full of donated books in a room that was just a very large storage closet. At our cabin, one wall in the recreation center is filled with donated books. Each cabin owner has at least one shelf of books to browse through and borrow! Our recycle center has a whole shed filled with donated books. They are everywhere!

I like the image of books everywhere!

Leaning how to find and judge the validity of information is a vital skill. Also, not all low income students have a computer at home. Some may need access at the library.

That is definitely a point some people forget: computers only seem everywhere. There are plenty of people who don’t have Internet access. This is actually a major problem for society since it places a barrier between lower income individuals and higher paying positions.

I agree — the library isn’t dead and it certainly won’t be any time soon. Like you said, even if paper books aren’t around much longer (though I think they probably will be, anyway), libraries offer so much more — they are peaceful, quiet places to research, write reports, write stories and study for exams, even if all these things are done at the computer…

Do you think librarians will have to be part computer programmer? If they aren’t already, of course!

Hmm they definitely need to be very computer savvy, at least. I know that (some of) the librarians at my university library are responsible for developing the software for searching the library databases and things like that. And just generally helping students with computer problems.

Nice post! I definatly agree that Libraries are not dead. From High School up until now I still love going to the Libraries where I live (Las Vegas). Every building’s architecture is different, and I can go to any location and use the same library card. Strangly, when I lived in Georgia for college I couldn’t check out from various library locations because you had to live in that neighborhood.
The library is not only helpful with free classes but I also use it as the place I can rent DVDs. The only set back with checking out DVD’s is that a lot of them are really scratched.

That is a good point. Though very useful, sometimes the books, CDs and DVDs can be scratched or a bit banged up. Still, the library is a wonderful repository of knowledge, so I wont hold it against them.

As someone who taught Freshman Comp. for years, I say–Amen! Losing libraries means the death of a culture–the beginning of the end!
Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

I liked your article, it turns out very useful library. thank for your info.

Everything changes now when we have computers

I think that they might be overlooking the fact that libraries offer free access to a lot of databases that would be way too expensive for an individual college student to subscribe to. Somebody’s got to manage the database subscriptions and the electronic resources that a library manages.

As a future librarian, I’d just like to point out that libraries aren’t dead; they’re just evolving. They’re still responsible for selecting and preserving information, and for vetting which information (even stuff for free online) has the kind of reliability you need for scholarly research. Libraries also provide access to technology for people who can’t afford it, and on campuses, they’re the ones who have a computer you can use to do your homework when your computer crashes at midnight and you have a paper due in the morning.

Great point! I use my local library back home in Phoenix even now, while I’m studying in London. Thanks to my library card, I can get access to the online databases I need for good grades in my Masters course.

Agree with Kathryn above, The closure of libraries just signals the further dumbing down of society! The right to information should prevail to everyone and most importantly to have the ability to search for information. Librarians are the ones who impart how to do this to people. Libraries are there for the whole community from the poor to the richest, the youngest to the eldest. It is a place to meet, learn, and most importantly, to read! I use my library constantly for myself and my kids for books, cds and dvds. Plus its free 🙂
Congrats on being freshly pressed!

This is a great post. I definitely think that libraries are dying these days, but they certainly shouldn’t be. As you have stated, most, if not all information is available online now, and librarians are needed in order to teach students how to successfully find that information. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that many people view that skill as a necessary skill.

We had a young lady apply for a job as a librarian at the college where I work. She had the more traditional librarian knowledge, but also took many courses in database management, etc. and was unable to find a job. It’s very sad, really.

Once again, this is a great post. Thanks for shedding light on the situation!

I used to love libraries as well back in grade school. But in high school, sadly, not so much. 😦

I am an avid reader and still make a pint to visit the library when I can. It’s free and it gives a nostalgic feeling. A way to cherish what you hold in your hands perhaps. A finished physical product. And the free activities at the library involves communities. I do hope libraries will be able to sustain through this rapid change in technology and book publishing methods.
That said, an ipad for example would cater well to easy reference on the go I think. More a lifestyle efficiency. But not to overdo on the dependency.

I do not think the point of libraries is to store books. It is to store knowledge and teach people how to get at, and then use, that knowledge. So iPads aren’t antagonistic to libraries at all, just a new tool in the librarian’s box.

Books won’t die just because there is some fancy technology available. Print remains king:

Good point in your blog. I replied to it on your page.

I liked your article. I worked in a library during my nursing school years – the last time I visited that library there were 15 computers, all in use, with a waiting list. Only 3 people were checking out books. A society without libraries (or even a school without a library) is a sad state of affairs.

Good post. Libraries are a sign of a civilised society – and, as you say, a place to learn about finding out, exploring ideas, serendipity and lateral thinking.
The pressures you speak of on school libraries are growing in the UK too. Over here it’s the kindle & iPad that are threatening shelves of books – as mentioned here

Libraries oughta make wireless internet standard. I think that would be a great way to get people in the door and funding. Unfortunately, our government seems more preoccupied with giving tax cuts to their corporate sponsors-I mean-fundraisers.

Great article. I love the library and still use it today – in my late 30s. Just something about having a book in your hand. I have a dear lady in my life and she is a librarian for a school and is mainly a technology librarian teaches children how to access and use the online resources available out there and she loves what she does! We do not have community centers in the town I live in so the Library fulfills that need – so important as a social part of the community. So important to instill reading in children and adults – without Audio Books my mom would be lost since she is blind in one eye and going blind in the other. Thanks again for the great post!

Libraries collect, organize, and disperse information. Learning happens on many levels. so it could be a book, a playaway, book on cd, downloadable book, a lecture, a concert, a film. People learn in different ways. Libraries, as has been shown,are very adaptable. Less than 20 years ago their card catalogs went digital. Libraries have become information specialists, mining the web for the best information, using their databases to help others find information. Libraries have always adapted to the information needs of society. They are going no where.

Well said. After recently finishing up my last year at my University, it was shocking to see how many fourth-year students STILL don’t know how to find useful information, even on the web. This is a necessary part of education, and libraries help hold this in place. 😀

Exactly why I refuse to touch a Kindle.

Libraries are where I spent my lunch breaks reading about horses and dreaming about my future. They helped shape who I am just as much as any teacher. Declining public libraries are the reason I’ve enhanced my home collection to influence the next generation.

Thanks for the informative post.

(Wondering if you meant “wander” instead of “wonder” the book shelves?)

Yes, you caught my spelling error! I’m sorry about that, particularly since this post is on libraries!

Libraries should never disappear. Just because you can get the information on the net does not mean you know how to research properly. My town does not have a library although our county seat does. They are constantly having events and showing that a library can save a town.

When I was a boy, our class would traipse to the library to learn about the Dewey Decimal system; and the librarians were wonderful resources.

When I taught for LAUSD, the librarians still had a strong grasp of the Dewey Decimal system, however, by 2005, the system was a relic.

All of the classrooms had Internet-connected computers. After a few attempts at taking my classes to the library, I decided it was just easier to teach the kids how to search the Internet myself.

I’m sure there were older teachers who didn’t go to college in the Internet age who needed the librarians help… but with each passing year, I’d imagine there are fewer of those teachers.

Libraries are still some of my favorite places… I love books. But then again, I still read a newspaper.

Thank you for teaching your students how to research the internet. Very often this isn’t the case. I will admit that I have never used the Dewey Decimal system. I agree, it is unnecessary. But having a person to show us how to research and how to understand if a Wikipedia article is a valid citation source (because sometimes it is, though not necessarily “professional”) just seems very necessary to me. Thank you, however, for pointing out what the regular teacher can do, too!

Nice read, I totally agree with what you’re saying and it’s a shame that they’re dying out to be honest. The library has always been a place of comfort for me, somewhere I go and instantly feel relaxed and a quiet place to study.

One thing Seth Godin missed when he used his analogy of the librarian as helping learn how to become effective data sharks:

It isn’t about the data. It isn’t just about finding right information.

It’s finding the information correctly that can a person can validate now, 5 years or 10 years from now or 25 years from now. It is about teaching readers of information, now increasingly digital information how to think critically and analyze information to validate its source and authenticity.

More than ever we need to teach children (who we cannot always police online) to distinguish reliable information from the growing mound of stuff in blogosphere, web sites, Twitter and Facebook. Let me know also about the proprietary, meaty research databases that cost money to get in at times.

The public library was my second home during summer vacations as a kid, and I probably wouldn’t have gone into teaching if it hadn’t been for libraries and the wonderful things I learned there. Unfortunately, librarians are not seen as being “valuable” enough by those who control the money in education these days. All of my students–even those who didn’t read much–loved our bi-weekly trips to the school library. There was always something for everyone there.
Thanks for reminding us about the wonder, and usefulness, of libraries.

Love this post! Philadelphia offers a Science in the Summer program that invites students to keep learning on their break. I highly recommend it to anyone in the area. I will be sharing this blog as well

Hi Kate;

I enjoyed reading your post. You made some valid comments. I also understood the model that Seth Godin envisioned. I think there is room for them both to exist side-by-side in our future libraries. Yes, all books probably will be available in E-format, but not everyone is a ‘tech’ junkie. I spoke to some young high school girls recently about how they prefer to read books (I am an author) and to my surprise they said that they prefer to read hard copy books. They said that they already spend too much time on the computer and that it creates eye strain for them. So that’s something that libraries will have to factor into their decision-making as they make plans for the future.

Then there are those of us who are ‘visual thinkers’ who prefer to have a physical book in hand. I’m told that visual thinkers make up about 50% of the population, so perhaps their continued use and request for hard copy books will keep that medium alive, even if in a reduced volume. I certainly hope so. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject.


Great points, Deborah. Thank you for sharing the study and your own experiences.

I’m an undergrad student, and I go to my school’s library almost every day. It’s where I get the bulk of my work done. The librarians there have to know how to use all of the technology there, organize scholarly journals, answer various questions about the school’s website, and deal with all sorts of computer problems. I give them major props for what they do. Being a library isn’t the cake walk most people would imagine it to be, and I can honestly say I am a more efficient researcher because of my school’s librarians.

Great post. I can’t imagine not going to the library every other week to wander the shelves and chat with the librarians. They are some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and also the most helpful. They were the first people I turned to when I started ordering my college textbooks online and they showed me how to be sure I got the correct edition from a secure site. It is sad to think these libraries and these people may be endangered.

Great post!

The library is a critical leveler for anyone wanting to raise themselves from poverty. I can’t believe how little we value the library community – there’s so much hope there; wish those who need it would utilize it more!

Heartbreaking to see our libraries struggle so to stay afloat – please support your local library!

What an amazing ode to The Librarian – thank you! My mother was a librarian and apart from the things you describe above, she also spread the love to read and to cherish books! What a wonderful post, and I wish the librarians in LA the best of luck 🙂

Well said! I personally hate online books and such.. Don’t people appreciate the smell of a good book anymore? Nothing better than perusing through the library.

i don’t own a nook or anything like that yet…i love books. although i hate clutter. i always give away my used books and i like that they’re passed on. i like the feeling of a well-worn binding, and the creases in pages, and the smell.

I agree. Library’s should be the last thing they get rid of.

In Sweden they are soon dead.
It´s a scame beacuse they are great places with lots of information and other things

Library definitely still has a place! I know the paper books will go in the end… (even though I dont think your tablets will ever match the experience of browsing in a bookstore on a Saturday afternoon or feeling the weight of your latest purchase… just waiting for you to crack that binding…) but Libraries are also centres of communities- places to yes- research information and sometimes to work- in peace, in silence…far from the maddening crowds… save the California Librarians!

I couldn’t agree with you more about going to book stores and looking at the books. So much better than ordering online! Even if I intend to buy a book for my Nook, I tend to go to the bookstore first (and I’ll probably by my next book in paper, just because!).

Libraries are cool loads of information and all for free, access the internet, ask questions the librarians will probably be able to find the answer. Plus books are a lot better to read than the ebooks etc. nothing like the feel of a book or the feeling you get as you turn the pages.

I would’ve died in school if it wasn’t for the libraries. I LOVED them like no other, and still do. I still wander down to the county library and check out as many books as I can carry, and CDs now too. Schools can’t take away libraries. Children today are already missing out on a lot of great things that many of us had when we were younger (yeah, I know, I’m only in college, but some of the kids today make me feel like I’m 80 . . .). Plus, libraries are a place where new worlds can be found and explored, they can’t take them away, they already tried in my area and everybody said no.

P.S. I work in my college library. One of my favorite places to be every day.

Libraries are dead…yet. The new thing is the library without walls. Everything is at the touch of your fingers from office or home. Your library will provide you with materials from the DEEP WEB – databases and knowledge aggregates (serialized eBooks). Soon the printed page will go the way of the dinosaur with Kindle and its imitators, as well as audiobooks, to which I am thoroughly addicted. The Age of Information didn’t turn out like we planned. I wonder if the Industrial Age looked the way it was planned? I’m being silly now. As a former librarian, I can’t say that I’m sorry to see libraries go. I never worked in a library that wasn’t a snake pit. If something becomes irrelevant, then it goes the way of the chariot or the omnibus. That’s life.

*Stands up and applauds*

A similar situation exists in the UK. It’s sad that, somewhere along the line, certain authority figures came to see libraries as expendable…

well, i wouldnt say that librarians are teachers. they are qualified in classifying books, mainly knowing what certain books are about, know where to find certain data. teachers are more punctual, in that they know about a certain subject more than a librarian, they have a ore broadened scope.
librarians are like walking encyclopediae

Great article! I’m an up and coming librarian. I love my career and I look forward to its future. Like some, I do not see it as bleak; instead, I see the possibility to combine my passions, teaching and research. It is sort of a hybrid of professions, they work hand in hand and I intend to maximize the potential of my career by utilizing both of my backgrounds.

but who couldn’t miss the lovely crackling sound a paperback novel makes, everytime you turn the page?

That is one thing I do miss about paper books. I miss dog-earing them, actually. Don’t ask me why, but it’s true.

Here in my southern Ontario, they are also eliminating libraries in public schools. Mind you, they’ve been gradually chipping away at them for years (less space, then half-time teacher-librarians, then part-timers who service four or more schools a week). They claim they are going to ‘redistribute’ the books and computers from the Library throughout classrooms in each school and rely on teachers (or, to further save money, parent volunteers) to act as resource assistants. It’s outrageous! Libraries are no more ‘just repositories for books and movies and music’ (as has been said by various school board authorities) than museums are places for just storing and displaying dinosaur bones and bits of old pottery. They are magical places for LEARNING ABOUT THINGS in the most interactive, tactile way. As for technology – in a Library there’s always someone (the Librarian) to help when you can’t decide which resource(s) to use or how to use them – unlike the Web where it can be difficult to develop the right search query to drill down to what you really need AND much of the information returned is questionnable. I realize technology is here to stay, and ebooks and online ‘collections’ of information will continue to grow, but let’s hope the idea that we can do without Libraries isn’t a trend that catches on. We NEED books, Libraries, and Librarians – they are what make us truly civilized.

Great post !
My 10 year old recently participated in a science fair at school. They had to do projects on the human body. Her team was given the question: how do we fight and prevent infection? (thus had to talk about the immune system). Another team had to answer: why do we resemble our parents? ( object to explain the gene system). The school library and it’s librarian were WAY more helpful than google or wikipedia for the kids to find information that they could actually understand…..

Kate, I’ve got a big smile on my face for this post. I remember when I got my first library card how excited I was to know that I could check out just about anything I wanted. Since then my interests have shifted from fiction to nonfiction (I still love my fiction, but find myself checking out more nonfiction books, now).

I wrote a post similar called “Literary Advocates Redefine Their World Without Books”. It’s a scary thought, but there’s a possibility that we can be moving away from the libraries as community institutions to online data centers, or something of that sort.

Libraries for me help me satisfy my book cravings without going broke. And Kate, thanks again for mentioning that libraries are much more than places that store information. My fiancee and I are looking for ways to save on our wedding. An idea she got was to do the floral decorations herself. Guess where she went to learn to do that? That’s right. The library. She’s got several books checked out on various flower patterns and layout ideas.

And when the fiction bug bites me, I know where I can go to get the good stuff for free. I love and cherish my library card.

Thank you again for this post!


Hooray for libraries and all the wonderful librarians who make them run! Three cheers for you all!

Thanks for this great post, and congrats on being freshly pressed!

We have two college-age daughters. They’ve been going to various libraries with their dad since they were toddlers, and it’s still one of their favorite ways to spend time together. Lynn in Arizona (RAK Stage Mom Blogger)

I hope the library never dies. I sincerely believe that the information you can extract from a book is much more lasting and meaningful than the same information pulled from a website. Librarians are very overlooked people nowadays; hopefully rising technology will not have an impact on the work they are doing.

I have a new writing blog at

Great post. Looking forward to more.

Congratulations on making it in the freshly pressed! I also agree with your sentiments.

Schools here in my country is too far from becoming Digital Libraries. For one thing, not all students have the platform to utilize e-books. Most students and faculty members are still highly dependent on print.

Librarians in my country are misperceived by the students. Most of the students see Librarians as a custodian or the personnel in charge of releasing books. Not all people are really oriented with the novel task of Librarians. I agree that with the enormous information we have, Libarians play a vital role in becoming information specialists.

Great post! I could not imagine a world without libraries. When I moved states in middle school, the library around the corner soothed the transition for me. I’ve moved many times since, and the most exciting thing for me is discovering and exploring the local library. A good library is a second home to me.

The problem is, Libraries have been the victim of underfunding, underappreciation & misunderstandings, as being less critical to any and every community. As intellectual and enlightenment “warehouses,” it’s amazing that municipalities consider closing or curtailing the operations, in a time when this resource is even more in demand. Rich people can buy a book & avoid libraries altogether. The rest of us don’t have such an option, but in civil society, the rich & poor alike have a vested (& INVESTMENT) interest in a vibrant, up to date library is available, if for no other reason than to offer a young, potential Hawking, (Elizabeth) Blackwell, Obama, Lincoln, (Joan Ganz) Cooney, Einstein, (Charlotte E.) Ray or (Bill) Gates, the opportunity to explore their imagination, enhance an intellect & help build a better world for us all… Oh! Some of the above names unfamiliar? Maybe a good place to look them up is… well, you know the rest…

Agree . . . I watch my friends’ kids–some who have never been to a library–and “why do they need to?” They have the interwebs. Nice post.

Great post, congrats on the FP.

An argument I too feel strongly about. Thanks for framing it in a way that reminds people the question is not about whether paper books are still useful but how important the community of a library and the guidance of a librarian is.

Seven months ago I moved into an apartment that is one block from a library branch. it took me four months to get around to actually using it, but now that I am, it’s easily my favorite thing about my entire neighborhood–quite possibly my city. That giddy feeling you mentioned about picking books off of the shelf (for FREE!) and learning new things is exactly how I feel. The internet, as useful as it is, just isn’t the same. I spend a day on the web and I feel like I’ve wasted it. I spend a day in a book (even something as non-academic as a sci-fi novel) and I feel like I’ve made the best of my time. My area is not running the risk of losing its libraries, but that very strong eventual possibility lingers in the back of my mind like . . . like . . . something. It’s not good.

I love library and the pleasure of sitting in front of a big shelves. Glad that I’m currently studying in a university which gives a lot of honor to the library and books. It has the biggest library in South East Asia :))

And yeah you’re right, the library isn’t dead yet.

I really enjoyed reading this thoughtful post. Thanks for sharing.

i still prefer paper than staring to computer screen.

I had a couple of hours to kill in a small town and went to the library. I had a mobile card for my laptop, so I didn’t need access, but I needed a place to sit down and work. It was great, except that the selection of books was pretty limited. However, there were six or eight public computers that were all in use and people were coming and going. Libraries will continue to be an important community resource.

Besides, without libraries and books to work from, bloggers like me would not be able to work our political rants into parodies like “A Timepiece Tangerine,” It’s much more fun that way.

I say I prefer books, there is nothing like holding something with real pictures that will still be there after the power goes off, but the last time I opened a cook book was 10 years ago. Now they just gather dust. I haven’t been into a library in several years. I feel inspired to break out the cards and go in a have a shuffle round. It’s a cold and wet day here in Sydney so it’s just the day for it.

Thanks so much for your thoughts.

The modern library is essentially a community center – at least mine. Despite the still stocked shelves, plenty more go in to rent movies, dvds, cds, blue rays, and engage in activities, workshops, events and training for the youth, middle class and elderly. Viva la biliotheque!

Good reminder for everyone about the importance of libraries. It is a place of study and research. I have not been to a library but I still value it. Specialty bookstores are still full of people. There si no reason why libraries should be empty or should be taken out of it splace!

Finally, I meet another soul who loves the library for all its worth 😀 and doesn’t find it boring at all.Boring or geeky, for that matter.

Good piece,and congrats on bringing freshly pressed! 🙂

I couldn’t agree with you more. I took my two little ones to the library last week to sign up for the summer reading program and was pleasantly surprised that the place was packed!

I wholeheartedly agree. Libraries are such beautiful places.

A great post on a wonderful institution but in the UK most librabries have already been severely dumbed down. Personally, from the age of about 13 to 40, I lived in two towns which held the county music libarary. By the time I was 15 I had read the scores of many important classical works. Some scores were not just out of print, but extremely exspensive, especially ‘full scores’ as opposed ‘pocket scoes.’

About twenty years ago, the enormous collections of recordings on casette and vinyl began to disappear with all but the predictable classical music being replaced by that which was popular rather than by that which was worthy. In the ensuing twenty years much of the music that was deemed popular has been chucked out to keep the shelves stacked with that which is current. Much the same has happened to the art collections, novels and anything academic.

Evetually, in Colchester, UK, the most wonderful collection of music manuscript was relegated to a dusty storeroom, 20 miles away. One of the many victims were the entire works of Khachaturian in 12 enormous volumes, all in full score and beyond the purse of most individuals. The entire gamut of western music from the 12th century to anything approaching operatic or orchestral music of the 20th century, disappeared overnight to be replaced by anything which was popular, current and fashioned out of a handful of chords and in the keys of C, G or F. (Oh, and it musn’t modulate) Goodbye Beethoven, Copland and Tippet, hello 50 Cent and the Spice Girls.

Many books have been scanned to formats accesible online and whilst projects such as ISMLP ( work hard to tranfer manuscript to digital formats, there is really no suitable means of reading the rendered updated versions. Reading a full score on even a Kindle is tiresome and cumbersome.

At times I would have twenty books out on loan from my public library and valued their service enormously. But it is hard to believe that my home town of Colcheser, which houses not just one of Britain’s best universities, but a respected college of music, could suffer such a brutal academic and artistic rape.

Yes, libraries, I remember them with great respect and sadness…

Thank you for your story. I had not even thought of music libraries, but yes, that is one form of print that is really best printed. I could not imagine trying to turn a page with my violin at my chin on my Nook. It would be a) too frequent and b) too cumbersome.

I am a librariophile. Or should I say liberophile? However it may be, almost all my life I have been associated with libraries of one kind or the other and still am. I am a library-lover! I use libraries for learning.

A library is a symbol of our intellectual civilization. It is not just bibliotemporal or bibliospatial; a library is a cultivated repository of our ancestral legacies.

Librarians are custodians of those ancestral legacies that are kept in the form of books, scripts, and documents. Now libraries are more sophisticated; yet books are at the core of their architecture. I am unable to imagine that librarians are being retrenched and libraries are either downsized or totally eliminated in USA of all the places! In fact, it the USA that is exemplaristic of the library tradition with some of the greatest libraries in the world and also with some of the outstanding librarian-scholars. Every library user is dependent on the librarian plus all the accompanying staff in a library.

Librariocide – I am not sure whether this word would stand the test of time – is on a par with ecocide!
Your article might be contextual, but as a librariophile, I appreciate your blogpiece which I reckon is of global implication in the long run given the neo-liberal economic paradigm. Thank you!

I found your article very interesting. In South Africa we are dealing with a very different problem: more than 90% of our public schools DO NOT HAVE libraries! A shocking number. Of course, public schools in wealthy communities use the latest technology- smart boards and touch screens are common. But we are constantly rallying for second hand books to be collected and donated to create libraries at schools in economically challenged communities, especially in rural areas. We have non-profits like Equal Education, Cafda, Philanthropy and Islamic Relief driving these projects…but it’s a very slow process. These communities are not sufficiently electrified for their youth to become “data sharks” in a high tech way. We just want to get them reading. Where basic education is still such an uncertain commodity, books are worth their weight in gold.

Thank you for sharing such a contrasting situation!

Totally agree with your post, I am a huge fan of libraries myself, they offer more then just the educational and knowledge part, they offer an opportunity to meet new people, for children to socialise too.

I wrote some posts around this as due to government cuts, a lot of libraries in the UK are now under threat of closure, and will impact remote areas who depend upon this.

Please have a read if you get a moment:

Congrats on being FP!

Thank you for the links! I will definitely check them out. I hadn’t realized that the government cuts were also in the UK. I live in the UK now, so I will really have to take a deeper look into this issue.

Nice post. Long live libraries!

library is such a peaceful and lovely place to spend time and read books. Also you meet new people in person which cannot be substituted by internet.

I do love libraries, and librarians! It would be very sad to see such institutions die out. The library in my hometown has recently undergone a huge refurbishment, which was fantastic to see, and they now offer all sorts of things like story time for children once a week (I have a toddler who thinks that’s great).

Thank you for this article! School libraries are something that is really missing here in Berlin, I have always wished my primary school and high school had had one. I was so happy when I came to France that every school has their (sometimes rather small) library. And I was even happier when my students actually went there to read German short stories 🙂

Great post. I would hat to see the day they wouldn’t use libraries anymore!

Hello Kate,

Interesting insights.

Everyone wants libraries to survive and librarians are under-appreciated. Absolutely. We all value what libraries stand for, but we use them less and less.

An important thing to remember about libraries is this: They are still totally unique. No one does what they do. Anyone can walk into a library and read a book (new or old) for free. That’s completely unique, even today.

Libraries have millions of fans and supporters that value them and do not want libraries to go away. What libraries need to do is find creative ways to leverage that support so that they can become what they need to become in order to survive. What they should become and what they should do with all that support is a different conversation.

You are right that librarians are teachers. But their class sizes are thinning. There are a few online sites I know of that help young people understand what they’re reading. Sparknotes is one. There are probably a bunch of others. Sure these sites aren’t the same as an experienced educated librarian walking a student through how to write an essay or research a book report, but they’re online. And that’s huge.

I don’t think there’s a question of the value of a librarian. It’s more about whether or not they are being utilized. I don’t think they are, but that’s mostly because their classrooms are getting harder and harder to get to.

Keep up the good work Kate,


If you like my writing you can read my blog at or you read a post I wrote recently about how libraries can make it at

You know the crazy thing is if Barnes & Noble ever started charging admission, I would happily pay $50 a month for the ability to read. Its like a library with clean books. I know that sounds bad but I really do enjoy relaxing and reading more at a bookstore than our local library.

Jim Olson Dayton

That’s an idea, though. If the decor is what is keeping people out and giving people a bad image of libraries, then maybe it is the decor that has to change. My libraries growing up were very nice, complete with art and sculpture. That may have been part of why I love them.

Wow, I read your post and completely agreed with your sentiment. So I thought I’d comment. As I scrolled down I was amazed at all many comments you already have, all in agreement. It’s wonderful to know that libraries still hold a special place in our hearts.


Believe me, I was so happy when everyone supported libraries! It’s really uplifting to know that even though those in charge in some places are closing them down, there are still people willing to speak out for libraries!

Sad but true. I still borrow books from the library and recently they’ve cut library hours because they don’t have funding to pay public branch librarians. These places will soon have to solely depend on volunteers. And the crazy thing is these places are packed with people. I have so many fond memories of going to the library. Libraries are not the only businesses suffering from the e-book revolution. Its a problem for writers as well. So much for getting your book published when you can just get it e-published like the zillions of other writers out there.

I completely agree about the writer issue. I am a novelist, and I want to get published. But though publishing my ebook is tempting, getting a readership would be difficult. That’s what the Publishers used to do. By myself, I’d just be one of the masses.

thats a wonderful insight..straight from the heart! long live libraries!

I love libraries too and thanks for sharing.

I love libraries! I love the quiet, safe haven that they are. Unfortunately, they are being cut due to budget restraints all over. I wonder if it would be possible to make them over as you have stated as a place to learn to research while putting all reading materials online? That does seem to be the way things are headed. Brick and mortar libraries and their librarians have all my love and support.

Well, what I am suggesting is what they have always been. The book warehouse idea is actually relatively recent compared to the actual age of libraries. I think that rolling back the clock, so to speak, is very doable. We just have to stop thinking of librarians as clerks and start thinking of them as scholars!

I hadn’t been to the library for a while but when I did visit I was surpirised to find that there were hardly any librarians. They had all been replaced by computers!

I will be very sad the day we get rid of libraries. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, library hours have been reduced in most branches in L.A. already.

It is not the same at UCLA, where the libraries are always crowded- but that makes more sense because this is a research institution anyway. But why the decline on city libraries?

I do know, as an avid Internet user, that this is faster and blah blah blah, but people mostly use computers for social media and communication. Which is also bad because we spend several hours doing a whole lot of nothing. But I truly hope that by the time I’m 40, I can stil go and spend an afternoon at my local library- wherever that may be.


With the Technological advancement, it has change the face of education as well. We used to attend classes inside the classroom, from kindergarten up to the graduate school, this traditional method is fast being replaced by modern hi-tech libraries which have become information superhighways

And the advancement of technology is all for the better, I’d say. But it does raise the question of what a future class room will look like, and a future library. After all, if librarians are no longer needed, are teachers? After all, with all the technology, theoretically, computer programs can take the place of teachers, right? (Keep in mind that I think librarians are very much needed, and so are teachers. Just making a point.)

In Michigan, adequate school funding is threatening the existence of school library/media center specialists, too. The high school in my district had the same gentleman work in that capacity for more than 30 years, and then it was decided that half of his day could be better spent in the classroom, teaching Social Studies. After doing that for one year, he decided to retire, and without any surprise, my district chose not to replace him. Instead, my district hired a minimum-wage-earning Media Clerk, who is a great person and is extremely helpful, yet who simply doesn’t have the knowledge and experience of the gentleman she replaced. It frustrates me to no end that after 30 years, a district can decide that a position is simply not necessary. Tangent to this discussion is the status of my own beloved position, School Guidance Counselor. From the time that I was hired 8 years ago, my district has gone from 10 to 7 School Counselors district-wide. The double-talk is always that these kinds of cuts are the lesser of two evils… Cutting a classroom Teacher vs. cutting a School Counselor. While I realize that my position does not cut down on class sizes in my building, I KNOW that I serve a valuable role in addressing the emotional and future planning needs of my students. Also, I am very often the first person parents come to when they need some kind of assistance from the school. That has to stand for something! Ultimately, I do realize that the main issue to solve is school funding. We need to seriously evaluate what we value in society when we pay some professional athletes a half million dollars for sitting on the bench, yet we can’t make sure that schools have the funding to provided low class sizes, Media Center Specialists, and School Counselors!

library.. a magic word..

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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