I first began to think about how libraries would fare in this depressed economy when I read this blog post by Sharon Astyk. I had already begun to notice some libraries holding fewer hours, opening later and closing earlier but for some reason, and also some really disgruntled workers. It didn't quite hit me as much then. though. I mean, it's obvious that many of us own our own computers (or internet-ready devices) and get our information from the internet. Libraries are much more underutilized these days I remember as a child I used to go to the library with my class to learn how to use the card catalog and how to find things in the library. In college, even, as a freshman, we were required to have a few sessions at the library to familiarize ourselves with how things work there and how to use the library to do research. My nieces and nephews who are in college and high school now have never taken these kinds of classes and almost all research is done on the computer using online databases. So it's very easy for local governments to cut funding to our public libraries and I can't say I don't understand.
But while I, like most people, use the internet for a lot of things (including using the online library card catalog), as someone on a tight budget, the library is an invaluable tool. I know that I cannot afford to lose the library. I currently have almost 30 items out and this includes books for the children, media (DVDs, tapes, CDs, CD-Roms), books on tape, magazines, etc. The library adds a richness to our lives that I want to hold on to. And like Sharon, I wonder, if the internet is no longer available and we have not been keeping up with our libraries, what will we do?
Oh, gadgets like the Kindle are very exciting and convenient but without technology to back them up, they're pretty much useless. So what happens if the technology isn't there or isn't widely available? Not to mention (from a thrifty point of view), I don't always want to buy every book I read. It would be wonderful if someone could perhaps find a way to make things like Kindle work with our existing library systems and it looks like there are some attempts to get Kindle and public libraries together. Instead, it just feels like one more technological advance that may render libraries obsolete. So while folks are giddy about their Kindles, I just can't quite work up the same excitement even though I'm blown away by how the I-pod revolutionized the way I listen to music. I don't know . . . maybe as time goes on I'll be able to jump on the bandwagon. But for now, I'm going to go put some things on hold at the library.