Are Libraries Really Necessary?

E-books, e-readers, online access – perhaps the printed book is going the way of the dodo. Does this mean the death of the public library? Linton Weeks, in this story for NPR, responds to the question with an emphatic “No.” Public libraries function as far more than mere repositories for books. They are community meeting places; they offer language and technology training (free!); they provide computers for research and, yes, for reading e-books that aren’t physically available in the library.

Weeks quotes Tony Marks of the New York Public Library: “Public libraries are arguably more important today than ever before. Their mission is still the same — to provide free access to information to all people. The way people access information has changed, but they still need the information to succeed, and libraries are providing that.”

Given their vital community-services mission, how can libraries be designed to store and present their book collections while simultaneously making space for information-seekers and modern technology? An excellent example is this library in West Tisbury on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where creative storage and shelving have accommodated old tech, new tech, and community events. See the amazing video here.


Photo © Werbe Papst – Fotolia