According to a story by John D. Sutter for CNN, libraries as we know them will soon be a thing of the past. Well, maybe not soon as in next week, but perhaps too soon for those of us who love going to the library, pulling a book from the shelf, and sitting at a table to read or do research.
Books are being pushed aside for digital learning centers and gaming areas. “Loud rooms” that promote public discourse and group projects are taking over the bookish quiet. Hipster staffers who blog, chat on Twitter and care little about the Dewey Decimal System are edging out old-school librarians.
I do embrace a lot of the new technology and love the fact that if I am doing a story and need to find a specific detail or check for accuracy, I can switch from Word and go on the Internet to find the detail or verify the fact. There was a time when I had to stop working and go to the library to do that.
On the other hand, I will miss the “old-school” librarians, like the one who presided over the little library of my childhood. She encouraged a young girl to read more than just the horse stories that were my first love, and when I’d exhausted most of the books that were in the children’s section, she wrote a note to my mother asking permission to give me “select” adult books to read.
So I got to read Little Women, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, Of Mice and Men and many other books that both charmed me and broadened my world view.
Will that same type of personal relationship and fostering be possible in this new age? I don’t know. That remains to be seen. But I hope this same kind of magic can happen, because a love of reading, no matter how that love is introduced, can take a young person a long way toward success. Not to mention how much fun there is along the journey.
Just think of the books you have read in your lifetime and what they mean to you.
I want to take a moment to thank that lady, along with all the other “old-school” librarians who have touched my life and helped me with research through all the years I have been writing. New technology may dominate the future, but you will never be replaced.