Why Libraries’ Survival Matters
They Offer the Kind of Space the Internet Never Will
The internet as we know has been around for over 25 years, but we’re only beginning to grapple with how it is fundamentally changing our daily lives. More than society being “disrupted,” some cultural hallmarks—handwritten letters, record stores, newspapers—already seem to be quaint artifacts of the way we were. At first glance, libraries, too, seem destined for the dustbin of history, unable to compete with the convenience of accessing books, expertise, and media instantly on any portable smart device.
Of course, as we argue in our inquiry, Why Libraries Will Shape the Future, the purpose of libraries and librarians—to disseminate information—is more relevant than ever in the internet age. But what of the physical spaces, which Mark Twain called “the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them?” Will these institutions that once helped define communities still exist? And why should they? …