Monday, November 15, 2010

Digital Underclass: What Happens When the Libraries Die? (ZdNet)

Jason Perlow:

Over the past several years we’ve seen an ever-increasing move towards digital media as the preferred way of distributing books, magazines and newspapers. Whether it’s eBooks, websites or some other form of digitized distribution mechanism, the writing is on the wall for the printed “dead tree” medium.
Within 20 years, perhaps even as few as 10, virtually almost all forms of popular consumable written media will be distributed exclusively in an electronic format. While there are clear advantages to digital media, such as the instantaneous purchase and delivery of that content, elimination of book shortages at bookstores as well as the obvious portability benefits, it has a sociological impact that many have not considered — which is that the “Have Nots” of society may find themselves denied access to an entire range of content they enjoyed previously with the printed book, newspaper or magazine.

What I’m talking about of course is the Public Library. You know, those big, quiet buildings in your town filled with shelves of books, card catalogs, and librarians to help you find that material. In a fully digital society, we won’t need Public Libraries anymore. They won’t be cost effective, and there will be far less new printed books, magazines and newspapers being released to stock these libraries with.


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1 comment:

julanna said...

Hmm. Quiet. You haven't been to any of my locals lately. Also, libraries work well with digital media, many are loaning out e-books now, (not mine yet) and some are experimenting with loaning out e-readers with a collection of e-books already on them. Plus most are making the net available in-house and have done for years. The situation probably isn't as bleak as you think