I wanted to add onto my Paperless post of last week. One commenter had mentioned that they believed libraries would be obsolete in the future. A little bit ago we'd had this conversation at Compuserve about whether libraries are no longer relevant. It was linked to this article where one author calls for the end of libraries because of lost revenue for authors.
I don't think anyone will debate that the book industry is changing. Libraries aren't what they used to be, but does that mean they are no longer needed?
I take my two children to the library once a week. Not only do we attend story time but we walk around the library, browse, choose books to check out for the week, read a few, and just have a good time. There have been many times when my children have loved books so much I went out and bought them. That's money I spent in the book industry I wouldn't have if we hadn't gone to the library. But mostly, libraries help teach my children to love reading. I'm raising a future generation here, and if we want that future generation to love books we have to expose them to books. My kids love reading. In great part this is because of our library visits. During the week they will sit down DAILY and read to themselves each of their library books. Then they will read every single one of their own books (which are not few) that they can get their hands on. Then they will make me read each of them out loud.
How do I know this is because of libraries? Because I've tested it. In the past we've had months that were too busy to go to the library. With no new books checked out, and without that connection to the wonder of books created by the library, my children quickly became disinterested in reading. To the point where if I asked if I could read to them they said "no" and went to play cars. I know that with kids interests cycle and you have to be prepared for ups and downs in any activity, but as long as we're visiting the library, their interest doesn't wane.
I know that as the book industry changes libraries are going to have to change, too. But I hope they find a way to fit into our future, because we need them. Our children need them and authors need them. In the Compuserve thread one person pointed out that librarians are book pimps. There are many authors that I've loved and spent a lot of money on after finding them at the library.
So, that's my opinnion, what's yours? How do you feel about libraries? Are they good, or are they stealing revenue from authors? Should they be in our future, or are they going to fall out of existence?