How long has it been since I last utilized the services of a library? I would have to say that it’s been longer than I care to admit.
Once the hallowed halls of information and learning, libraries have now been replaced by internet search engines. Or so we think. The truth is that libraries are no less relevant today than they were when IBM was nothing more than letters of the alphabet.
Unfortunately, many communities dealing with budget constraints have reacted favorably to the advent of the internet by making drastic funding cuts to the local library.
But the assumption here is that every child and student has immediate access to a computer and the internet. In economically depressed areas of the country where income is a problem there are some children that are forced to do without. And where do they go for the information they need; to a library, that is if one still exists in their neighbourhood.
The other reality that many urban dwellers seem to forget is that the high speed broadband necessary for many of our high information websites is simply not available to major segments of the rural population.
Where will the students who need a safe and quiet environment for study, learning and writing go? While many students still insist that learning can happen with a laptop sitting on their knees and music blaring in their ears there are others who need a much calmer place to study. In truth, most libraries are no longer the stuffy enclaves that cater only to nerdy high achievers.
The brick and mortar approach t storing dusty books has long ago been abandoned by those who have seen the writing on the wall and adapted successfully to the new challenges that computers and the internet have presented. The other perk, which is so often ignored, is the proximity library users have to a real person, namely a librarian, who can help them access the information they need.
Learning isn’t always instantaneous. Sometimes the student requires someone older and more experienced to help decipher and make sense of the information that is available.
Are libraries old relics? NO. In this age of information we need libraries more than ever before.