Friday, December 28, 2012

The Great Library Debate

New York Public Library Research Room
New York Public Library Research Room - Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0 - Wikimedia Commons
Do we still need libraries? Asks the NYT. This seems to be a perennial, nay chronic topic among librarians and library patrons. Libraries are universally venerated, but the discussion about the role of libraries today is churned over so much, though without reaching any resolution. The Times recently brought up this subject by asking a number of scholars for their views on the role and future of libraries. While Amazon has decisively overtaken the role of bookstores, there still remains a need for a physical place where people may gather to, if not read print books, at least to learn and meet. People often speak of libraries as sanctuaries, even though they long ago ceased being cloistered havens, for the whole world pretty much congregates there. Still, it may be that a library continues to evoke feelings of a good place, a place where everyone is welcome. Maybe that's justification enough for their existence.

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