This post is dedicated to my best friend Heather, the most brilliant tech-savvy chick I know and recipient of the 2010 Kansas Library Association Presidential Award for New Professionals. You have taught me well, friend.
I love my library card. It’s magic! I show it to somebody at the magic desk, and *poof!* I get books! The person takes one look at my card, and my wish is their command. And it’s free!
I was waxing eloquent at lunch one day about this fabulous magical card, and one of my coworkers commented, “Libraries are dinosaurs. They’ll be gone in a few more years.”
I choked back a gasp of horror and asked why she thought that.
“Everything is online now. And all these Kindles and stuff. Nobody needs a library.”
“But what if you don’t have internet at home?” I asked.
“Oh,” she said finally, brow furrowing. “I didn’t think about that.”
Yeah, bet you didn’t.
I continued that I imagined there were a lot of people in our city who couldn’t afford home internet, and while they are definitely fun tools, e-readers like Kindle, iPad, or nook are not cheap. Also, not everything is online. Some resources are still just paper or even *gasp* microfiche. Large-size art books and other unusual materials cannot be reproduced online or on a Kindle. Many online resources require you to pay for access, such as medical or law literature. But all these resources are available for free at your local library. Not bad for a dinosaur.
And librarians aren’t going to go extinct either. A librarian will find the information you are looking for ten times faster than google. Seriously, they are the wizards of search terms. I once searched for revolutionary and civil war spy stories for twenty minutes and came up empty. Zilch. The librarian at the desk clicked three times and found me twenty books and a list of search terms to try if I needed more. Try a game of “Stump the librarian” sometime. I guarantee you’ll lose.
Also, the economy, stupid! Where do you get your Friday night movies if you’re running short on cash? The library! Where do you go to job search when you can’t afford internet access? The library! What about an outing for your stir-crazy out-of-school children that won’t drain your wallet? Library! Video game tournaments. Computer classes. Jazz concerts (at my library anyway). Art shows. All these things are free. That’s a pretty busy dinosaur if you ask me.
One last thing: have you ever smelled a Kindle? In my humble opinion, no bells and whistles on a fancy e-reader will ever compare to the smell of a well-loved book, especially a free one.
Trust me: the library ain’t dead yet.