Here It Comes: The Bookless Library (Sooner than I expected)

In October of last year I published a post on a study conducted by Pew Research Center on the reading and library habits of those aged 16-29.  In that post, (linked here) I cited part of the study that covered how this age group reads their books, e.g. in a digital, audio or the old fashioned way by holding a REAL book in their hands.  I questioned the future of our public libraries and how they might have to conform to keep up with modern technology.  I asked, “what might our libraries look like, 10, 15 or 25 years from now?” I offered a possible answer to that question. Guess what?  Some of my assumptions are coming to pass and I’m definitely mixed in my feelings about it. See what you think.

NPR reports that in San Antonio, Texas there are plans to open a “digital-only” library in the fall of this year.  The 1.5 million dollar project will be housed in an existing building covering a little less than 5,000 sq. ft. of space.  Here’s a drawing of the proposed facility.

San Antonio e-library concept

San Antonio e-library concept

If this looks like an Apple Store to you that’s no coincidence.  A proponent of the planned “BiblioTech”, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, believes that the benefits of converting to an all-digital library are:

“The library is a chance to expand the scope of opportunities for people to learn technology,” Wolff explains. “The world is changing.”

He contends that the $1.5 million project will be cost-effective, as it’ll be located in an existing county-owned building and available to many under served communities where residents may not have access to at-home computers.

In fact, improving technological access to lower-income areas of the predominantly Hispanic county is what led to this bookless endeavor. Many of the unincorporated areas of the county, he says, lack public libraries.

Sarah Houghton, director of the San Rafael Public Library in California, has only one word about the project: “premature.”  She relays the following, relevant facts:

“First, some people simply prefer physical media — they don’t want to read on a device,” Houghton says.

Second, she points to the issue of the digital divide. Those who aren’t necessarily technologically literate may need extra over-the-shoulder help with the devices in a way that would require a large operation and, consequently, a big budget.

“A huge element is training staff, and that’s even presuming that the library can afford enough of these devices to meet the demand,” Houghton explains.

And the biggest issue? Most content is simply not available digitally to license and purchase.

“So your selection of best-sellers and popular media just went down the toilet because 99 percent of that is not available to libraries digitally,” she says.

Many publishers don’t license to libraries, and those willing to do business often have what Houghton considers outlandish terms — too expensive or unrealistic for a library’s allowance.

So here’s my initial thoughts and, as I mentioned, they are mixed:

I do like the clean lines of the design and being a lover of technology I do believe everyone who wants to should have access to it.  I’m 100% in agreement that those living in low income communities with little educational resources must have more tools at their disposal to keep up with their peers and the advancement of technology.  I’m just not sure that this proposed library is the best way to go about it at this time. BUT,

I’d like to see one of these e-libraries housed in a low income community public school, in addition to, not as a replacement for the school’s existing library, if there is one!  There, everything could be monitored and studied to see if the cost of licensing books, the cost of keeping the databases up-to-date, hardware maintenance costs, staffing, etc. makes economic sense.  Additionally, we would know if students grades improve by having the best of technology available to them.  Schools already have teachers and support staff trained to use the latest technology so the cost of teaching and any additional training is one less thing to worry about since much of it is already figured into the budget.  Of course, the cost of the equipment, maintenance and the building costs would have to be added.

Technology is a wonderful thing but it is very expensive.  Perhaps our friends at Apple would like to donate the hardware in this experimental e-library and get in on the ground floor of what may be, in the not so distant future, the only available way we will read a book.

I hope I’m wrong…

Book stack

Personally, I like a bound book.  I do have an e-reader and I do use it on occasion, but for me there’s just something magical about turning the pages of a book.  My history with books goes back more than a few decades and yet I know I must evolve with the times because as that great Bob Dylan song goes, “the times they are a-changin”.

Some questions for you. If you have some time, I’d love to get your feedback:

  1. How do you feel about the general trends in technology?  Are you right in step, falling behind or have no interest in technology and wish everyone would just get a life and spend more time reading a real book than using an e-reader or smart phone?
  2. Do you think it’s only the older generations that might oppose the move to all digital libraries? What’s your take on this digital library concept?
  3. Do you think we could strike a happy balance by having books, e-readers and computers housed together as they currently are but perhaps with a real upgrade on the technology side?  I know at my public library the computers are ancient and they definitely need an upgrade.  Preferably to iMacs & iPads :)

Resources:  NPR A New Chapter? A Launch Of The Bookless Library

333 thoughts on “Here It Comes: The Bookless Library (Sooner than I expected)

  1. The bit I don’t get is why people would flock to a digital library to sit upright on front of a screen when they could be at home downloading any book they want cheaply off the internet onto their digital readers. Can someone explain this to me please ( old and bewildered ).

    • I agree and asked myself the same question. The only thing I could come up with is that likely most of the younger generations aren’t spending hours at the library as I did (in the old days) :) They would be dropping in to get some quick reference information on databases that I’ll assume have information stored that is specific and more organized than searching the internet. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and comment!

  2. I heard about this on NPR as well. Personally I think it could win or fail situation. I’m a serious book lover myself who buys books online or checks out books from the library. I don’t own a kindle yet because I really can’t afford one at this time ( horrible student loans). The idea of an electronic library sounds good at first but theres still bound to be problems such as system failures, power outages, or strange loss of data. Plus I remember the guy on NPR mentioning that they would have patrons borrow an e-reader to take home. Some people are good about bringing things back without damage but there will always be other people who bring it back damaged from a “latte spill” or claim that “I lost it again can I have another one” (Nudge nudge wink wink).
    Regular reading books have problems too such as getting lost or damaged in any way but personally I still prefer my paperback books.
    As far as an all out electronic library goes, I’d say don’t go that route but go both ways. Make it electronic and paper because some people can’t read off of electronic screens all the time. Plus not all of the older generation will want to mess with too many new electronics. I know this because I still help my mom with her “new fangled” droid smart phone that she’s had for over two years.

    • Hi there and thanks for your comments. I agree with all that you’ve pointed out. Yes, real books can be a problem too…they are bulky and easily damaged yet the tactile experience just cannot, in my opinion, be compared to reading on a electronic device. As you pointed, out the cost of devices is prohibitive for so many people. Libraries lending out readers would just be a costly and time consuming waste in my opinion for the all of the reason you mentioned. I’m encouraged by the responses, here as the majority seem to agree that libraries continue to offer both in the future, electronic and paper. Sorry for the delay in responding!

  3. Yeah, I work at a bookstore and have had to see the sales seriously dwindle since the release of e-readers, I’m starting to feel like I’m working at a ‘Blockbuster Video’…
    But what gives me hope is that I see kids still want to buy books rather than read off of their devices (even as tech savvy as they are).. There’s something to be said about the physical experience (as you mentioned) that I’ve been surprised to see kids understand, and not just old people set in their ways of reading books.

    Who I really feel sorry for is anyone who still owns an ‘Adult Video’ store… digital media was like the Grim Reaper for them. Poor bastards…

    • I also have noticed the steady decline of bookstores since the release of e-readers and even before that, when people started buying their books online. I hope we can keep foster that physical book experience to future generations. Technology has, as you pointed out, been the “Grim Reaper” of many media related retail businesses, not just books. Streaming is the new age version of videos. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment!

  4. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Not surprised. This was a great story and it inspired equally great conversation.

      • I know. It is fabulous. How’s your weather? It has not stopped snowing here since yesterday.

      • Blizzard conditions here. Snowing lightly since 4AM but now wind is picking up and gusts expected to reach 80 mph overnight. 1-2 feet of snow expected through noon tomorrow. I’m praying the power doesn’t go out. I hope you stay safe, warm and dry. It’s about 20F here but that’s probably considered spring like temperatures for you Canadians!

      • It’s 18 here. More or less the same. I haven’t moved out of my apartment all day. I could have. I live in the city and have restaurants, shops, movies, Starbucks within a block or two. And subways. But I am hibernating like a bear. Hope your power stays on. Mine too for that matter. Have a warm, dry weekend.

      • It’s times like this when I would love to living in a city where I could walk to Starbucks, a movie and a restaurant. It’s all there waiting for you when you’re ready to venture out. Enjoy!

  5. I agree with this concept and embrace the new technology. Much like the DJ who’s format changed from vinyl, to CD, and now to USB stick on a laptop and the press of a button to mix. Does it matter? The crowd does not seem to care, end result is all that matters I guess.
    Same for the library…I want the information without the overdue fines and book reservations.
    The atmosphere wil still be intact I suppose. You are still “going” to the library. Just not lugging around all the books.

    • Hi and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I can’t agree that it’s “still going to the library”. The experience is completely different. If you look at the picture in my post you see a bunch of stools and macs. Don’t think I’ll be spending much time there. It seems more to me a place where we will spend a short amount of time getting some needed information. It would be very uncomfortable to study there or do research for long periods of time. I think you might find yourself waiting for a stool as opposed to waiting in line to check out books. And, it’s likely I will be able to get this same information by staying home and uploading it from a library database. That’s what I think most of us would do. Why then, would we need a digital library to “go” to? Hey, I’m all for technology and I use it every day. Love it! Love the gadgets and what they do. I just don’t think we have to throw the baby out with the bath water. I think there are still many of us that enjoy the library experience and don’t want to lose that. I personally would like to see a blend of the two.

  6. This is slightly off subject,, just picking up on an earlier comment. So sad to hear of budget cuts to Libraries in the UK. We in NZ are lucky to have reasonably well-funded public libraries and a strong advocate in our National Library, as well as partnerships amongst some District Councils. Our access to wifi and free internet is available through libraries (a national initiative) Schools have computer suites and libraries of varying standards. Our local library provides ebooks available free without going to the library, but it seems the community still treasures highly the social, safe place to go to get an armload of books, mags, CDs, read the paper, look up when Uncle Albert died,and chat to everyone else. You can’t relate to others sitting at home with your little black box !

    • Thanks so much. It’s heartening to hear that your libraries in NZ are appreciated and utilized by your communities. Here in the US, I think the positive social aspect of the library has never been fully taken advantage of even in the days before computer technology was introduced. It’s a shame. I agree completely with all of your points.

  7. Pingback: Bookless Library? No way! | Luci's Log

  8. The digital library is closer than we think! But I have recently moved from traditional library work to library work with the more vulnerable members of the community and they are going to need an enormous amount of support. Possibly more than can be afforded – I worry about that.

    • Yes, I agree. The cost for some communities may be prohibitive for those you describe as the “vulnerable” members of the community. It is a big issue here in the US, too. Thanks so much for commenting.

  9. Most libraries have computers open to the public and e books are already available. (at least where I live in the Niagara region down in southern Ontario) Most people use the computers for stuff like facebook and other social networks. I don’t know much about how many people actually loan ebooks, but when ever I loan i always go with the good ol’ fashioned paper though. I believe the mass amount of funds that will be used to open up a “free facebook bar” should go towards the existing libraries becoming more of an amazement for the next generations for whom creative writing and reading for leisure may become comparable to cave paintings.

    • Great point. If people are using the computers in libraries primarily to converse on social networks then we’ve failed in one sense. Not sure what to do about that but perhaps given they are spending time in a literary environment they may be inspired to browse the books! Time will tell but I can’t imagine a world without real books, just as I can’t imagine a world without technology. I hope both will survive and thrive for generations to come. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Great article, I had heard about this proposed library and I too think it is possibly a bit premature. I am currently studying for a Masters in Library and Information Science and although the clear trend is toward digital media I have to admit that I believe the traditional paper and hard-back books will never become obsolete. The main reason for this is because there are book lovers out there like us that enjoy the look and feel of a real book along with the reading of it. The look and feel are as much part of the enjoyment as the story within the pages. Not only that but there are issues with digital preservation and licensing. Take this situation for example, you have an agreement with a digital publisher, the relationship sours, do you loose all access? If this was a situation with a printed material you would at least have the copies for which you had already paid.
    I think what we need to find is a happy medium, there does need to be investment in computers and technology in every library and there needs to be changes made to make technology more accessible but there also needs to be a place in (most) libraries where you can find a comfortable chair and sit back with a book to read. I really believe that libraries are so very important in communities, schools, colleges, hospitals etc. but they need to be user friendly and user orientated. Changes need to be made and libraries need to be marketed. I find it sad that the story about this digital library has made it around the world but some people don’t know where their local library is or that they even had one.

    • Thank you so much. All of your points are well taken and I’m heartened by the fact that you will, in whatever role you will play once you earn your degree, support a union of the paper and digital library. Unfortunately, many of our local libraries are really lacking in not only the technology but also the quality and selection of books available and you can’t market what you can’t offer. I really believe that if people were made aware of all the advantages libraries offer (books, information, research, programs – even the positive social aspect) more people would use and support them. Terrific comments – much appreciated!

  11. Books, writing, and even language for that matter, are all ‘technology’. Socrates bemoaned the death of thought writing would bring, and in some senses he wasn’t wrong. It’s difficult to speak of ‘memory’ any more.

    But returning to the subject intended, I ‘m not sure how the poor in the community would be best served; from my time in a poor latino/latina area I remember that there were barely any physical books, many people crowding computers, and a large DVD collection. Merely observations, not sure if the answer is to Apple-ize.

    So, to sum: I don’t feel very ‘in step’, but I ‘d like to see a Great Books emphasis (and not simply the ‘Western’ traditional corpus) in whatever media is offered at our libraries. Here ‘s hoping they don’t all turn into cafes.

    • I agree. As it is, libraries are lacking as they currently stand and, as you pointed out, especially in poor communities. The all-digital library proposed for San Antonio will likely fail, in my opinion, due to abuse, lack of the necessary funding and staffing needed to teach, monitor and maintain the equipment and premises. Another band-aid being placed on a hemorrhaging wound. Thanks for your comments.

  12. I’m only 18 and even I think technology is getting slightly silly now. I mean who actually needs a smaller ipad? I think e readers are a nice extra, they’re easy to carry around and I suppose you can read more books because you can download them instantly but I still prefer a real book. I have books downloaded on my ipad but never get round to reading them because it just seems like a lot of fuss with pages turning when you don’t want them and losing your page when an app crashes. Maybe I’m just old fashioned for my age but I want the technology train to stop now, I feel like we’re losing some of that ‘realness’. I think it would be a shame if this is what libraries turned into, especially if this means you are unable to take a book home from the library (I would assume that would be rather annoying) we already have something like this; internet cafes. A library should be about the books I feel.

    • Well, thank YOU so much. I would never have expected this response from one your age and I hope there are many more out there like you! I think what I fear most is what you called “realness”. Not only realness in the experience of holing a real book and feeling the pages but, additionally, the social aspect of living life that technology seems to be transforming. We are so into our “devices” that social interaction (by social interaction I mean…being fully engaged face to face with someone without checking your phone every 10 seconds) is slowly disintegrating. I do believe there can be a happy medium – a balance of both. It’s up to you, my young friend, to keep the bound book alive! Thanks again.

  13. Im with number 3 I personally own both digital and print books, and think that they both have a place in the marketplace. I don’t however agree with an all digital library, that’s just biased. I think that the library should be a place for all people not just people that can afford e-readers. I don’t think that this is a step forward, but something to exclude the poor from the knowledge that they need.

    • Yes, indeed. We have to be realistic and given the current cost of technology there is no way we could offer digital libraries in all communities – especially the poorer communities. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments.

  14. The community I live in while attending college recently opened a digital branch to it’s library. I agree that having both a digital and physical branch seems necessary. The digital branch is in a low income areas and besides offering computers also provides some really cool technology like a sound booth and 3D printer as well as more ordinary but useful commodities like a meeting place and some evening classes. A lot of the classes are taught by staff but some come from community members and college volunteers. It’s much smaller than the sketch but the community seems to really enjoy it.

    • Sounds wonderful! This would be ideal if this model could be duplicated in other communities but, of course, it would have to be economically feasible. Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. Don’t get me wrong, I love my e-reader. BUT it’s mainly a convenience thing. I will NEVER stop reading bound books and shudder at the thought of replacing my worn out paperbacks for an e-version of the same book. There’s nothing like the smell of a library or bookstore. Sounds weird, I know, but true all the same. I can’t smell those crisp pages on my e-reader, I can’t feel their texture as I dive deep into the story. I truly hope our world won’t ever come to strictly digital libraries because for me that lessens the reading experience.

  16. I’m mid age and that doesn’t keep me from being up to date with technology. I really don’t understand people my age and even younger that are anti-tech, so to speak. But to be fair I’ve always been interested in technology and current gadgets. I do enjoy holding a real book, but I also understand that trends move people’s interests. So much that thus far the technology exists to make everything paperless. It is the generation behind us that will decide what to do as far as books goes. The legalities of the licensing issue won’t even matter. Looking at this through the eyes of older generations is a mistake, precisely because it is them who are not able to use tech for whatever reason you name. I agree that for the time being, installing this kind of library in public schools, in a sort-a-controlled-way environment, is absolutely feasible and should be done with support from tech companies. That’s what students in low income neighborhoods need and are asking for. As for older generations, they’ll have to let it go, and be the ones who help make the change towards communities more immersed in technology. After all, it’s not like printed books are going to be banned any time soon.
    Just to finish my comment here. The day before yesterday my brother in-law gave me a 1984 printed copy of the novel Airport by Arthur Hailey, the Spanish translation… I plan to hold it in my hands and read it.

    Smile :)

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I’m past mid-age and I do keep up with technology. I’m right now writing to you while sitting in front of a LION OS X widescreen all-in-one, so I do get it. I use an iPhone and an iPad is probably my next purchase. I worked in a corporate environment so I was laden with all the latest and greatest devices that technology could spit out. As for real books, though, and looking ahead to future generations I guess you don’t miss what you never had but I believe some things are sacred….or perhaps “timeless” is a better term for the purpose of this subject matter. It’s not just a book and the paper it’s written on but the tactile and other sensory experience that goes along with it. This is something that one can’t understand or appreciate unless they have experienced it. I guess I fear that technology will take away the need for us to come in contact with not only books but people too. I see it in the big picture sense. I think our innate nature and senses are becoming dulled by the over use of technology and I can’t see that as a good or necessary price that must be paid in order to make way for the next evolution in technology. For my way of thinking, it’s always about balance. Enjoy holding that treasure your brother in-law gave you. :)

  17. Hi there. Ever since I bought an e-reader I haven’t looked back. The ease of use and convenience beats hard-copy books hands down for me (didn’t mean to sound like an advert!). Being 24 I guess I am not old enough to feel nostalgic, my only frustration being that not enough books are digitised yet. This library looks like a good idea but as you say it would have to be carefully planned and implemented.

    • Hi and thanks so much for commenting! I can’t deny the convenience of e-readers or any hand held device for that matter. I use them myself. Having said that, I would probably read less if I could only do so digitally. For me, holding a book in my hands is an experience that can never be duplicated by an e-reader. Nor, should it be. I understand that for some, it’s not an issue and the convenience and ease of reading from a device beats the weight of paper. I want both of us to have a choice as to what works best for us. There’s room for both. :)

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  19. Since the dawn of pdf pages, it’s been inevitable. I’m ok with it, even at 50 years old. It’s the stories that grip me, not the page turning. I work in educational publishings–we’re almost there 100% already in some areas.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do see the advantages of digital publishing and I’m not against it. I’m just not for the dissolution of bound books. I hope that both methods will peacefully co-exist in the future. :)

  20. I think libraries are moving more towards being community centers than a place to get books. They are a place for people to gather and study, chat, or play with their kids. In my area, libraries offer all kinds of programs, for every age. I do go there on occasion to do some research, but more often with my kids for the programs. I believe a digital library with large areas for community programs is the way of the future. I am ok with it. I used be one of those who refused to give up bound books, but now I only use my kindle and find bound books to be cumbersome. Books are just evolving, not disappearing.

    • Yes! One of the things I think many people miss is that libraries ARE community centers and if supported, they offer some terrific programs, guest speakers, etc. Lifestyle is what is having an impact on the bound book. The efficiency of an iPad or e-reader cannot be denied. I’m not against them and I, too, will load up my e-reader when I’m traveling. Unfortunately, as I just learned from another blogger, many classic books are disappearing (trashed). They are not being converted to a digital format. Generations now and to come will miss the opportunity of reading some the great classics. That is just unacceptable in my opinion. I just reblogged that blogger’s post on my blog, if you would like to read it for yourself. Thanks so much for commenting.

  21. Hey, interesting article and point well to be noticed and discussed. I personally love and miss the paper books, however, the e-books and digital libraries are a new evolving reality. I totally agree we don’t need totally digital libraries, at least not yet!

    Those of us who enjoy e-books as long as we get to read or don’t have enough time to go buy a book, have their e-devices. So I don’t really think we need to go change the libraries, because the feel and experience of reading paper books isn’t replaceable and a place to go get that is a sanctuary to be kept safe hopefully.

  22. 1. I do use both media to read, if it’s a good book I buy a paper book to keep. But I have a kindle and read news via laptop. No point in being a Luddite but use what you want to get the information you want. I don’t think all digital libraries are a good idea, how do you borrow the books?

    2. Probably the traditionalists will fight it, but I think a greater mix is inevitable.

    3. Yes, as wide a mix as possible though not just an Apple monopoly, please!

  23. Interesting concept with definite advantages, but I don’t think it will ever replace book repositories. It would appear to me that the digital library serves a completely different purpose.

  24. I love this post. I’m an reading whore and love devouring books in any format. Right now I mostly read in bed, so the ereader is perfect for falling asleep (never lose a page again!)

    On the downside, I’ve never had the motherboard fail in a book, as recently happened with my Kindle ( Think of all the electrical junk that will come as readers fail after a few years and will then need to be thrown out?! At least when you were done with a book you could pass it on….not so with the ereader.

    • Terrific point! I’m not against e-readers, I just think we must be made aware of the good and bad points of each. I so relate to the falling asleep before the bookmark is in place! :)

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  26. It’s good to have both digital concept and off course bound books in library together. Technology trends are really helpful and efficient but we should keep traditional books as they have value and become a part of our life. Great blog and very informative!

    • Thank you so much! I agree we always desire to have the best of both worlds and I hope that holds true for the future of bound and digital books. Thanks so much for your comments. (apologies for the delay in responding.)

  27. Thanks for pointing out the ongoing challenge of the digital divide. We must remember that even some of us already hooked via Internet and other digital platforms, we have to spend money every decade or so, to upgrade our computers and some software, to make sure we can take open up and view certain files online!! So let us not be too arrogant of others who don’t have a computer for their own exclusive self to read a whole journal or book online.

    Electronic publishers need to make money to survive. So there is point where digital conversion and offering it, is not completely free.

    We are also assuming everyone in the world can read English whenever we tend to talk about wholesale digital conversion of an entire library.

    I welcome digital books but it is incredibly naive that the whole world of libraries will only be digital: no publisher will want to convert everything digital, there’s a cost of people time, effort, etc.

  28. Ah so not an apple store but very close well..,

    My immediate impression, it’s sounds great and all but I really love how currently libraries have both books AND computers. Being exclusively one way seems unnecessary and inconvenient. I don’t see the appeal at all and yet I don’t do books and I don’t read for pleasure, well no escapist pleasure anyway, I read for the pleasure of knowledge and gain most of it through a computer. I enjoy the aesthetics of current library.

    Mixed media libraries are wonderful just as they are. I mean it’s not like books are ever really going to be “replaced”, remember the “paperless office”??

    • I hope you’re right! Actually my ex-boss kept a paperless office. I could never figure out how he did it. I kept thinking he must have it all stockpiled in some dark and musty warehouse somewhere. :) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

      • Very interesting post. I totally agree – mixed media is the way forward. Having an all digital library without books is like having a paper library without computers. Each medium has its benefits, so why not have both? Unfortunately paper libraries will probably become rarer over time, but I very much doubt they’ll ever go completely.

  29. Congratulations, great article about the ongoing conversion from classical paper to modern e-media library content use. Thanks for sharing the original with us.

    In regards to your questions, I have to say that personally I am very comfortable with electronic media, switched to e-readers a few years ago (sony, kindle (2,3,4, paperwhite), and never looked back. I feel that during this time I haven’t missed the feeling of a printed book, and have not bought a single one (outside a few that I could not find in electronic format for my phd courses) in over 3 years now (even if I’m part of the BabyBoom generation).

    I believe that we could strive a balance for a while between printed media, and e-readers of many types, but the printed media IMHO is solidly on the path to its demise. It’s no different that what already happened to cave paintings, stone tablets, papyrus, and quipus (inca’s cords/knots writings). New technologies are developed continuously and considered by users according to the value they provide. If the new technology provides higher value (and I don’t mean just dollar amount$) then it is accepted, if not it becomes just another curiosity (sometimes for a few thousand years as it happened to archimedes screw and steam engine).. So let’s just enjoy what we have today and I promise not to be condescendent to any fellow human still holding a printed book while I read in my Kindle :)

    • Thanks so much. While I’m all for continued progress in technology I hope we have the foresight to preserve the classics so, like cave paintings, stone tablets, papyrus, etc. future generations will get a feel for the era their ancestors lived. :) Also, I have to point out that part of that future historical collection will include the Kindle. I, too, own a Kindle so I’m not being the least bit condescending. :)

    • Believe me, when I read the NPR article I felt my spirit drop like a stone. The best thing I did was post about it though. So many of the comments support the survival of the bound book. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

    • I couldn’t agree more with you. You found the right words for my own feeling when seeing this picture. Since I am travelling a lot and always carrying books around with me, which is a hassle, physically and financially with shrinking luggage allowances on flights, I am trying to get into the e-reading habit. It certainly has some advantages, when you can look up the meaning of some words, concepts of the historical background. But there is just nothing to compare to the feeling of switching the computer off and opening a real book, getting into the story and turning the pages. Don’t even get me started on the magic of a library with shelves full of books, where you walk from one aisle to the next and just pick out whatever takes you fancy. E-libraries will rid people of a lot of possibilities.

      • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I think that’s what I fear most. The possibility that future generations will never have the tactile experience of running their fingers along the rows and rows of books, stopping at that one that catches their attention, by color, picture, texture or title; pulling it out of its slot and taking a few minutes to read a random page or two. There is nothing like the feeling of being seductively drawn into those pages so completely that, wanting more, we plan with rapt anticipation the next time we can sit down in a comfortable place, open the cover and once again lose ourselves in its pages.

  30. Wow. I’m on both sides of the divide here. As an Indie Author/Publisher of Ebooks, I think the trend towards E-Libraries is fairly inevitable…and likely a good thing for those like me:). As a life long reader, the physical, hold in your hands bound book will never lose it’s appeal (I still draw in an excited breath when stepping into a library). But I have to admit that I’m finding the ease of being able to search, purchase and download current and even out of print books – not to mention the discovery of stories that likely wouldn’t have been available via traditional publishing – from the comfort of home is rising in appeal as well.

    • I agree with you about all of the advantages of digital media and devices. I just hope we aren’t throwing the baby out with the bathwater in the big picture sense of things. We are a society that is less social than in previous generations. I love sitting in my comfortable home office and working on my beautiful iMac all-in one but that is just one experience. The experience of being in a safe public place, like a libary, and maybe having a chat with a stranger or the librarian keeps me connected to my fellow human beings. If I chose to I could completely run my life from my home. I guess I fear this will become the norm and I can’t imagine ever living in such an insulated world. Maybe that’s a little over the edge but I do think about it. Thanks so much for your insightful comments!

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  32. I can see this making sense in universities and for research – digital books are easier to skim through/ filter narrow subjects.
    I love bound books but I haven’t bought any in 2 years since I switched to an e-reader

    • Yes, I agree in certain academic and corporate environments, digital is the way to go. I just would hate to see physical books disappear from the shelves of libraries. I hope the future holds room for both. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  33. Okay, there have been tons of response, and I didn’t have time to read everything so hopefully I am not repeating someone…. BUT, here’s one issue with the conception of this library. Suppose that someone is there and they start reading a book (heaven forbid that we actually use the library for a book!) on one of those computers. Are they going to sit on that stool for hours until they finish? Are they going to come back later to read that book? If these so called libraries are in underpriviledged areas than I don’t think they will work very well. I think that it will breed a low tolerance for long term investment in reading, meaning that if a person has to sit on one of those stools he or she will not delve into anything too long because of physically induced uncomfortableness. Whereas, if a person could check out a book and take it home to read on the couch, in bed, or wherever the love of reading and the investment of books would rise. I know very few readers (and I mean readers!) who do not invest in books, either the physical or digital kind.

    I personally love a hard bound book. I don’t have a digital reader or any sort, but that day will invaribaly arrive so I can read out of print books. That is where I believe the e-readers are fabulous. That is the one undeniable area of supremacy. How much easier would my history papers have been to write if I had all that primary source at hand all the time instead of spreading agonizing hours in the special collections handling fragile papers and books and hoping I wasn’t ruining them by breathing…..

    Great post! Congrats on being FP!

    • Thank you so much! I know, I’m amazed and thrilled at the amount of comments this post has inspired! I thought the same thing about the digital library whereas it seems to support short term visits, given the side effects of sitting on one of those stools for longer periods would contribute to a sore behind and stiff back! I do think however that everyone, regardless of economics, should have access to and be taught how to use e-readers, tablets, computers, etc. I don’t believe a bookless library, unless it was housed in public schools as I had mentioned in my post, is a good solution. I see your point about doing research however. I did research, using the traditional methods, in my time too. If I had today’s technology available to me I would have likely added a lot more substance to those papers in less time and with much less physical effort. Hopefully the solution doesn’t require the complete removal of printed books from our easy access. Terrific comments, thanks!

  34. Love this post. I prefer to read a bound book as well; however, I belong to an older generation. When I see the young around me, I see that they function very differently from my generation, and people born before the early 90’s. They are more visual, and move at a different visual speed – almost a new breed – plus their focus changes at high speeds as well (no wonder we have so much ADD). This is of course a generalization because there are many kids who enjoy reading bound books. Kids are reading these days, and they also own technology, but their pockets are still depending on their mom/dad, and ebooks are cheap or free in many instances. I think that eventually we will see both, traditional libraries and high tech ones, comparative to – “where do you want to get your coffee, at starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? I love technology, either or I am happy.

    I enjoyed your post very much, very informative, and gives of plenty food for thought :)

    • Thank you so much! Yes, indeed, the younger generation do move at warp speed when it comes to technology and I wonder if that lowers their tolerance for things that require less motion and more thinking? This may be what you meant by the increase in ADD. What about facing every day challenges? Coping mechanisms and just learning to be patient? Action vs. reaction. A couple of other bloggers suggested that the use of e-readers or tablets are serving to increase the numbers of people reading. I’m not so sure. For children that I’ve witnessed using iPads they are all playing games, not reading a iBook. That is partly true for adults too although they are equally likely to be surfing the internet, reading a book, newspaper or work document on their tablets. I do hope you are right about the future of both the traditional and digital library. Terrific comments!

  35. To me, technology is something to be handled carefully. As someone born on the cusp of the emerging digital revolution, and also as a person whose occupational interests lie in computing and technology, I’ve come to realise that technology isn’t the answer to everything.

    There’s some techonologies I have fallen in love with, some I don’t follow right away and some I utterly detest. I have never owned an iPod, don’t have a smart phone (though I could probably use one) and my car is more mechanical than computer. There are some things like cars, in my opinion, that are better off as a purely mechanical machine, with only a little computerisation to help in some operations.

    A library, I feel, should be considered in the same category. A harmony between technology and hard items. Not everyone likes reading on a screen. Not everyone likes flipping through thousands of pages or books to find what they need. A purely digital library would marginalise those who are computer illiterate or dislike reading on screens for whatever reason (mine is my eyes and the brightness/contrast of some articles).

    I’m not against the idea of more information being accessible to more people despite their status in society, however, I believe that this isn’t the way that everyone should follow.

    That… and the sound of clicking all the time would drive me insane.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Balance is key here and part of that is personal preference, practicality and cost. The first thing I did when I purchased my first iPhone a couple of years ago was turn off the sound it made when I used the keypad! I used to commute by train to work and the sounds of the clicking keypads and keyboards used to drive me nutty too! :)

  36. I don’t think I’m ancient, but I am a Nanna so I maybe fit into the ‘older’ reader category?! I have a home library (hurrah for Ikea Billy Bookcases!) a Kindle touch, a gazillion databases and ebooks via my student access at the University of Queensland, two local libraries (with e and real books co existing) and a truly glorious assortment of second hand bookshops in Brisbane! A local charity has just held their annual second hand book sale in Brisbane’s convention center and it was heaving with customers of all ages snapping up ‘real’ book bargains. I have tried to read on my iphone but find it a wee bit too small for epics, but saying that I do love the fact that I can ‘carry’ so many virtual books around with me and probably do more reading because of it. The one consolation to the digital revolution seems to be that reading itself is as popular as ever, and that can’t be a bad thing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see paper books make a pseudo-nostalgic comeback over the next few generations either, just as long playing records seem to have done with the current twenty somethings who only ever knew CD’s :)

    • Hello there from “Down Under” and thanks so much for stopping by. You describe exactly what I want to see continue which is having all different types of media available to us and that they will be appreciated and supported by all of us. Having the choice to engage in the latest technologies with the ability to experience the time honored traditions is so important. Thanks so much for your comments.

  37. I read mostly physical books, but have just started reading e-books as well.
    I’ve also served as a board member for a public library (albeit 20 years) and I can tell you that no matter what technologies are in there, someone will use them. And that someone could be any age (we had kids borrowing books on cassette because their families hadn’t been able to afford anything newer since they bought the cassette deck). So who uses what technology is partly from preference, but also from what they have access to.
    My main thought in looking at the picture you posted was: how isolating! Everybody sitting staring at their own screen, not interacting with each other, not seeing what each other is reading or talking about it. One of the great things about physical books in libraries is wandering through the shelves and seeing books you might not have heard of, but end up borrowing and really enjoying. I don’t see that sort of random interactivity happening in a room full of computer terminals.
    Thanks for your very thoughtful post!

    • Thank you so much! Let me ask you…how is funding affecting the evolution of public libraries? It seems to me that they lag behind on the technology side and I’m assuming that is because of inadequate funding. I agree with you about the look and feel of the proposed digital library compared to a traditional library. Another thing I noticed, after I posted the picture, is that the stools would likely be very uncomfortable for one sitting for long periods of time. I wonder if that is intentional so as to discourage the amount of time spent there. No daydreaming going on there! Thanks so much for your insightful comments.

      • First, let me correct a typo in my original post: (albeit 20 years) should be (albeit 20 years ago).

        To answer your question about funding: there is never enough funding for everything that libraries would like to do! But yes, keeping up with changes in technology is expensive. And libraries also have to think about the long-term potential of any new technology along with the associated cost. In my experience, it often makes more sense to stay a little behind the curve and see which technologies turn out to be the more lasting ones before seriously investing in any of them.

        And in addition to technology, libraries also have a lot of fixed or constant costs that have to be covered: staffing, facility maintenance, and so on. So for some public libraries, it’s a financial struggle just to have enough opening hours to serve their community, never mind having up-to-date technology.

      • Thanks Fiona. I can understand staying behind the curve until everything plays out but where technology is concerned I don’t think there is an end! It’s constantly changing. I can only use examples of libraries I’ve visited in my area. Some offer more services, have a wider selection of books, more staffing, etc. than others, but when it comes to hardware they are all using outdated small screen monitors and wired keyboards and mouses. The databases are antiquated too. I would like to think there could be some upgrades made now in that regard without going crazy, like the digital library concept does. I do understand though that funding is the real issue and you’ve confirmed that for me. Thank you so much.

  38. I like the feel of a book on my hands, the smell of old pages and the way I can flick through them. I use computers every day to study, but they will never replace books. Books are the physical link between reality and the fantastic world to which a book could transport you. It just feels like there’s a bigger distance if you’re reading something through a screen.

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  40. oh, boy. I have to say I am of two minds. I love the hardbound books, and there are some author’s that I eagerly await for the next book to come out in print. Their books now grace my shelves. That being said, I also read books electronically and am glad for electronic books, ( I would have to by a larger house in order to store all of the books I have electronically). Audio books have become a favorite, they are used at work to block out the office chatter and read to me books that I am not able to wrap my brain around when they are in a physical format.

    But, I still think there is nothing better than walking through a bookstore or library and touching all of the books, the different covers, spines, papers… It really can be a wonderful experience.

    I can see as technology advances physical books slowely dwindling, with schoolbags weighing so much (sometimes 40 lbs) electronic books may well serve there, it could possible cut the cost down for education.

    I was at first only going to read physical books, but I have joined the technology wave and have become shamelessly addicted to the electronic version.

    • Me too. I have one leg in the traditional ways and the other in modern technology. That is really what I’m asking for in the future. I want to continue to have a choice. Really, there is nothing shameless in being addicted to the electronic version..there are many advantages. Thanks so much for sharing in the discussion!

  41. This is tough–like many things, there are pros and cons. I love dogearing the pages of my books, and I love the smell of books. I love that they don’t bathe me with electronic light. Some books I read over and over, and I associate passages with where they physically occur on the page. It is comfortable to rest a book on the arm of a chair and allow the pages to turn themselves; I haven’t found reading from my smartphone (I don’t have an ereader or tablet) to be comfortable on my hands/arms.

    That being said, ebooks must be infinitely cheaper to produce than physical books, which should, in turn, make them more accessible eventually, right? Of course, that leads to the problem of paychecks for authors, but so far I’ve loved the free Kindle books that are out of print. I’d love to see that expand a little. Also, we must speak of textbooks here, and the skyrocketing expenses for college students. E-textbooks really have no cons, in my opinion.

    Additionally, I can’t quite bypass the fact that ebooks are nicer for the environment. I have a good friend that refuses to buy books; she either buys kindle editions or borrows from her local library, as she doesn’t want to be party to consuming more resources than necessary.

    Technology is obviously the wave of the future–I don’t see a problem with needing the resources to train people to use the devices. Especially if we are talking about under-served areas. Most likely, the people that need these skills, once they’ve obtained them, can use them in the work place–we could look at teaching skills not only to get people access to the virtual library, but as teaching critical job skills as well.

    Anyway, like you said, the times they are a-changin. Luckily, as a species, we do seem to be pretty adaptable.

    • Hi and thanks so much for your comments. I too love the tactile experience of physical books. I do see the convenience of e-readers and tablets…I use them myself at times. I want to be up to date on technological advances as I see the many advantages. Here’s something to consider though. While delivering digital books to a device may be cheaper and save paper, what about the life of the device you read it on? Do you know that millions upon millions of discarded hardware devices are currently being shipped by barges over to foreign countries to salvage because we don’t have any more room here in the US? Additionally those countries have thousands and thousands of miles of hardware rubbish piling up and it is alleged that some of the materials are leaking hazardous waste into the atmosphere and people living close to these dumps are plagued with chronic illnesses. Books are made of paper and while I’m all for the preservation of trees it seems to me this is a much more easily addressed problem than that of toxic hardware dumping. I don’t mean to grandstand here as I’m as guilty as anyone for throwing out old devices and not consciously thinking about what happens to them. I found out about this toxic dumping via a documentary I watched. It is something we must address and soon. Thank you and sorry for the ranting…I must do a post on this subject of technological hazardous waste. :)

      • Oh yes, I’m completely aware of the toxic hardware waste–pathetic! Thanks for the reminder. I work in the healthcare industry and am constantly amazed at the amount of plastic and paper waste that is produced. It makes me ache a little, and cringe a lot. I appreciate the rant–I’d love to see some evidence on the ecological advantages of paper books vs ebooks. (Hint, hint, oh blogger?)

      • Ha ha and thanks! Yes, I guess I’ve opened a can of worms here! I best get busy but given the speed of ever-changing technology it is likely any research I might do would be obsolete by the time I published! Still…it would be interesting and fun! Thanks so much! (sorry for the delay in responding)

  42. i am an avid reader and i used my kindle to do my reading. the book i am reading right now is around 1300 pages (Europe: A history by Norman Davies) and before i got my kindle, i wouldn’t think of carrying this huge book in my subway trip to school and back to home. and the screen can usually show, what is to me, paper – quality. so now, my point is, digital device can show my more advantages than disadvantages.

    and by the way, i am afraid that your proposal that for digital library to exist with the traditional library side by side may not be possible because under the condition of scarce resource, a choice has to be made. and beside, i don’t think students need to read the bestsellers to learn english. a genuine interested student can learn as much, if not more, by reading free public domain classics.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your views! I certainly understand the convenience of e-readers and tablets. I am a lover and avid user of technology. As for the co-existence of a digital/traditional library I agree that the enormous cost to run and maintain such facilities is outside of what most of our world economies would or could support. A choice has to be made but I’m not in agreement that it has to be one over the other. This is the primary reason that I think it will be many many years and for those of us who are in middle age or older, possibly not in our lifetime that we will see a real trend toward an all-digital library.

  43. 1. I’m in my late fifties and don’t “have-to-have” the latest tech toy. When my laptop shows signs of age, I’ll get a new one — not before then. My Kindle, however, you’ll have to remove from my dead cold hands. I love it, am still amazed I can download a book in 30 seconds, and love the feature you can increase the type size. The last point is extremely important to those of us north of 40.
    2. Older people may, at first , be afraid of the technology involved in e-readers. But once they get over the hump, the adjustable type size will keep them coming back for more. And when you’re north of 50, who wants to hold up a 400 page book for an hour. Libraries are becoming more of a communal meeting place than a den of research. Sad but true. I’ll wax poetic about my old university library: the smells, the hidden caverns, the scribbled notes of a student in the 1930s. But there’s something to be said for doing extensive research from home in your pajama bottoms and slippers.
    3. A “happy balance?” Yes, but content is the ammunition in this battle. And the winner will be the form that gets it to you faster, in more depth, and at a lower cost.

    • Hi and thanks so much for your comments. I agree in part but I strongly believe we have to look at the big picture. We are a disposable society and all of the waste (that we don’t see) that is accumulated by all those devices that we throw away once we replace them with the latest and greatest. Many of us do that regularly, once twice 3X per year. Multiply those numbers by millions and you’ll see my point. The “balance” must take cost and waste into consideration…not just the latest, greatest and fastest.

      • Enter the edible, biodegradable, new Kindle “Green.” Your point about waste reminds me of my current dilemma: I switched my incandescent bulbs to fluorescent. Now I have a carton of used fluorescents — loaded with mercury — waiting to find a happy home. Think how many trees e-readers save.

      • Thanks for your comments (apologies for the delay). That is a dilmemma…and not sure how you might dispose of the fluorescents but kudos for making the switch! It’s true that paper costs us in trees but we could pass legislation (and I think there are such laws in some states) to plant new trees to replace those cut. The real problem is the factories that manufacture paper and the chemicals used in the process. We need to find a cleaner and greener solution.

  44. Great post by the way and quite an interactive subject.

    I personally think technology in good and the normal hardcover book is good but has some disadvantages.
    i.e. I enjoy reading and have alot of hardcover books but there is a problem when i want to travel, carrying 5 books can add some weight to your luggage, which you can avoid by have an e-reader like kindle,you know what i mean. So i support this improvement in a way.


    • I completely agree with you. I too travel with an e-reader rather than lugging books and adding weight to my luggage. When I return home, however, I will be putting the e-reader down and picking up a bound book. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

      • Same here, I agree e-readers are practical and that is the reason why I have one. But they cannot replace bound books entirely. Also, thinking of that library project, there is a generational gap we tend to forget. My grandmother doesn’t have a DVD or CD player. She still calls them “disks” because, well, they look the same. She doesn’t have an e-reader nor a computer or laptop. But she has plenty of books and so does my family. We use technology when it proves useful and practical, but that doesn’t mean that we should ONLY use technology for some things. I also think of the digital waste and the increased reliance on batteries, chargers, cables of all kinds… I’m not advocating chopping down all our trees, but there has to be a balance. What about energy saving? Wat about children growing up not knowing that you can play outside in the yard, that books were/are made of paper, that we write with pencils/pens…
        OK, sorry… end of rambling :-) and thank you for the very good post!

      • Thank you for rambling because you brought up some great points! I have 3 young grandchildren (6,5,3) who I spend a lot of time with. I’m always dragging them outside to play or take a ride with me somewhere…like the library. They actually love it but they are so easily absorbed, even as young as they are, by playing games on the computer or watching TV that you literally have to power off those devices to get their attention! This scares me. At this point there are well balanced kids but I wonder what will it be like when they are older and more independently making their own choices. I hope what their parents (and “Grammy”) are instilling in them now will spill over later but I also know the power of peer pressure.

        Digital waste and energy usage are huge factors to consider, as you pointed out. Raising awareness on both these issues is so important. Thanks for sharing in the discussion.

  45. Our library has e-books, but there’s often a wait list longer than for a hard copy. I can find certain rare books for free on-line that I simply can’t get from the library (inter-library loan takes 3-4 weeks, if they can get it). Meanwhile, we have a world-class used bookstore where you can find absolutely amazing things. Three distinct possibilities; use the one that works, and keep them all functioning if possible.

  46. I read about plans for bookless libraries about 20 years ago as well. They always sound so cutting-edge and like such a great idea, and then inevitably turn out to be less than completely practical. Can you really provide enough e-readers for all of your patrons to be able to check out books? Can you afford to replace damaged or lost e-readers if not all of your patrons are honest enough to pay for them? If your patrons have their own, will your library’s books be compatible with theirs? What about books patrons need for research that are out of print and not popular enough to warrant making digital? What about teaching users how to use e-readers? Will the library provide 24 hour tech support?

    Those of us who live and work in a middle-class environment can never quite fathom what the digital divide means, and that if we don’t consider that a very significant proportion does not have access to the internet at home, and often does not have a computer, laptop, or tablet at home either, we cannot hope to provide adequate library service. Sarah Houghton is right–it’s premature, and will likely cost a great deal in terms of wasted tax-payer dollars. I don’t particularly care what form my reading material comes, although I do prefer not to read entire books on a screen and there are several aspects of e-readers that are just frustratingly antiquated, but I am on this side of the digital divide: I have access to the internet and technology at home, and I generally know how most things work.

    • You brought up so many valid questions in your first paragraph. At this point in time I think the cost would make an all digital library prohibitive. We aren’t even properly funding or perhaps it’s that we aren’t distributing the funding fairly among our public libraries as they stand now. Some libraries have all the bells and whistles and some are in terrible disarray. I agree that to blindly dive into the muddy waters of an all digital world without first addressing all of the possible pitfalls and roadblocks is just plain foolish. Hypothetically, if we did zoom forward into an all digital world, we would probably be looking at, in 10-20 years a lot of abandoned buildings where bookless libraries once lived. Thanks for your very insightful comments.

      • I think the buildings will remain. The print books will stay for quite some time.–digitizing out of print works is prohibitively expensive. I’d give them 50 years. But mainly people go to a library to be in the same space with other readers, and that Starbucks can’t do. We will continue to go to libraries to hear writers speak, to listen to panels, to ask for the librarian to help us, and to use computers when ours is down. But I’d say we should give the technology another 10 years before going head-first into all digital. Too many questions right now that all of the answers to are “money.”

      • Yes, indeed. The library is a unique experience and I hope you are correct that it won’t be compromised by future technological advances. Thanks so much!

  47. The great gift of a public library is the opportunity to wander among the stacks and stumble upon a book that you did not know existed and to have that book change your life or jolt your perspective.In the digital world,most have become accustomed to ignoring or deleting anything that pops up at random or unasked for.

    • I agree with you on the unique experience of wandering the aisles of the library. I can’t imagine no longer having that option. You make a valid and valuable point about how we discard and ignore things in the digital world. Thanks so much.

  48. Not all progress is good for us. This is one of those times, I think. I prefer paper books for many reasons. Not the least of which is that I am trying to have mercy on my eyes (glued to computer screen every day for work), and reduce the amount of radio-activity my body is exposed to on a daily basis.

    • I hear you! I’m in front of a computer screen for many hours each day too. I love technology but there’s nothing better than cozying up on the couch with a real book in my hands. Thanks for stopping by.

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  50. I get the appeal of a bound book – it’s tactile, comfortable and tangible. However looking at the storage bins full of read books i have one thought comes to mind – WASTE.
    * Wasted resources just because i like an old fashioned bound paper feel.

    *Wasted space because I have to store them where they are not readily accessible or taking up space on shelves.

    *Wasted opportunity because i could sell them or give them away to someone else.

    Digital media’s time is coming, for better or worse.

    • I agree that digital media will continue to expand but hopefully not at the expense of the printed word. What about all of those old devices we have all trashed to make way for newer hardware? I think paper biodegrades much more rapidly than the materials that comprise pc’s, e-readers, iPads and smartphones. I definitely need to do a post on the problem of technology waste. You will be astounded! Believe me I love technology but I don’t see the need for it to replace printed media. Thanks so much for sharing your viewpoints! Much appreciated.

  51. I once heard a publisher say that books in print will never go away, because no matter how you originally read a story, if it’s a story that you love, you will want a copy that will stick around. So you buy the book. I think melding technology and books is a must, but I don’t think books have to be left out of the equation. :)

      • Most public larger public libraries do lend out e-readers. You should check with yours and see if they do. Mine does. I’ve never borrowed one, however. I have checked out e-books and read them on a computer screen from a library, which was less than ideal for research just because they are less mark-upable. (You can’t put a post-it with a quote on an e-book, and they are harder to skim through for a passage you neglected to put in your notes).

      • I actually have my own e-reader but I never thought to ask if my local library lends them out. I will definitely check it out on my next visit. Yes, I too, hate trying to skim while using an e-reader. I love writing my little notes in margins and highlighting passages in a printed book. I often go back an reread them, sometimes years later. It’s like catching up with an old friend you’ve been out of touch with. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  52. I hope real paper books never go away. However, there is an advantage to the ereaders. If only to make books more available to us “young folks”. Society needs to find a balance between the two.

  53. Personally, I don’t understand the fetishizing of physical books. The pages, the smell, the whatever whatever. In my opinion, text is text, and I will read it anywhere. I love all the public domain classics on the web at Project Gutenberg; I read them on my computer. I listen to audiobooks on my commute. None of these are books in the sense of the object, but you will never convince me that I haven’t read something because I haven’t turned its paper pages.

    Having poor vision I understand, but my mother is blind as a bat and she has no trouble reading on her Kindle with e-ink. It was designed specifically for that purpose.

    There are only two real obstacles to a complete digital transition right now: access to the necessary media platforms, which not everyone can afford (and I certainly don’t want reading to return to its elitist Renaissance-era roots), and the licensing issue Sarah Houghton refers to in the quoted section. Publishers want to get paid right now and until they figure out how to make money off entirely digital works, they will jack up those licensing prices to make digital prohibitive. The exact same thing is happening in the movie industry with the DVD versus streaming debate.

    For my part, I take the media how I can: book, mp3, txt file. Bring it all on.

    • All valid points. I can’t describe the “fetish” as you call it for the printed page but I get it that some people don’t make that distinction. It’s a personal thing. Believe me, I’m for all types of media and I am not suggesting that we prohibit the advancement of technology. I just want what we all should have…the freedom of choice. Thanks so much for your insightful comments!

  54. I don’t see why you can’t sit in an armchair with your e-reader instead of lined up with others staring at a screen. Why not have coffee and plants and soft furnishings. I love old libraries and second hand bookshops but there are loads of advantages to a kindle!

    • Well, I really can’t argue with you there! I would add, though, that visiting a library has it’s own vibe that I personally would hate to see go away. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  55. Pingback: Here It Comes: The Bookless Library (Sooner than I expected) | Linda Joyce Contemplates

  56. 1. I have an e-reader that has been the sole reason I now am reading 10 times more books per year, though I don’t feel digital format is for everyone, and I do sometimes prefer to pick up a physical book.

    2. I don’t believe it’s just the older gen that will be against it, I think everyone should be against all digital libraries if the plan is to do away with physical media. I think the technology isn’t there yet and I think the market is too ecosystem centric which is bad for libraries and library patrons.

    3. The problem with keeping technology up-to-date is going to be a problem forever until people start looking at technology the same way they do building maintenance. Too many people don’t consider the Total Cost of Ownership of technology before they go out and buy or accept a donation. Too often libraries excitedly accept free computers all to find in 4 years their equipment is out of date and broken and they never thought to budget in a replacement cycle. This is getting to be a worse situation now for these libraries and schools who are buying up tons of expensive iPad with no plan for replacement. I don’t know why to this day, people still buy technology like it’s going to last forever. I strongly feel that publishing companies need to agree on a format that is not platform specific and can be consumed on any device with any reader software. This will reduce the complexity for libraries to support one reader app and one download method. Right now there’s Amazon, Apple, Google, Adobe all vying for that title. Until that is agreed upon, no library can manage that support nightmare and get all of the titles they want.

    • Here here! You are right on, brother on all points but #3 IS critical. I’d just like to add a couple of more points on technology in general: One thing that used to drive me nuts was the pc to Mac incompatibility of files. FINALLY, after years and years of frustration, the problem has been somewhat addressed by Apple and Microsoft by developing compatible software. They still have a long way to go. And, since I’m on a rant, what about those damned power, usb and charging cords! What a waste. I have a drawer full of old Blackberry, camera, and PC charging cords that are obsolete. My son recently upgraded to the iPhone 5 and they changed the part that plugs into the phone itself. What is wrong with these people! We could save millions (maybe billions) if we just came up with power and charging cords that were compatible on all devices. There…I fell better now. :) Thanks so much for your insightful comments!

  57. A very well written and insightful post with some great points. As a Brit, I can unfortunately predict that a move into more technology based library resources may be a non-starter over here. Funding for libraries is non-existent anymore, with many closing on an almost weekly basis. As a student, I have noticed a move to computer based resources at our university library. There has been large investment in computer rooms, with increased accessibility for students, a vast increase in the availability of online journals and eBooks. However, as impressive as this is, I like books. The physical form of a book, the coffee stained cover, the strained spine, the frayed pages, the cover art. I’m yet to embrace the digital revolution yet, Iv never downloaded a book or a song! I buy cds from eBay, and I spend many an hour in charity shops and market stalls scouring for a book that catches my eye. Alas, our library system has failed through poor funding and not being able to keep up with this technology revolution. One solution I have seen to making reading more appealing is in a chain of book stores, where they have an instore coffee shop with plenty of comfortable seating for reading before buying, free wi-fi access for reading books on iPad etc. Time will tell how society adapts to changing trends, but lets hope that the art of holding a book with a history of previous owners, a book that’s been on a journey, lets hope we don’t lose that. Viva la resistance ;)

    • Thank you for the compliment and also for your many insightful points. I fear that here in the US libraries could go the same route as in the UK as funding is an issue here too. I think I might have to move if it does because a treasured pastime for me would be gone. Guess I won’t be moving to the UK though. :( Here in the US you would be considered a rare duck to not ever have downloaded a book or music! I applaud your reverence for tradition. Another blogger from the UK told me vinyl is making a comeback there. I think that is wonderful. As I shared in a previous comment and will share again here with you, the large chain bookstores with coffee shops, wifi, etc. are not doing well here in the US. One big retailer here, called “Borders Books” that was one of the first chain book stores to have a cafe/bookstore went bankrupt and closed thousands of stores across the country. The reason is because people hang out in these places and might buy a cup of coffee but they aren’t buying any of the inventory. The cost of running a large retail space isn’t going to be taken care of by coffee sales. That’s why we need to support our libraries. We can have that same pleasant experience (sans the coffee). Hmmm…maybe we should have cafes in libraries? The cafe could be owned and operated privately. A nice little business for someone. I would love to run a gourmet coffee shop and I can’t think of a place I’d rather do it than in a library. You’ve inspired me! :)

  58. 1. I’m torn on the trend of book technology. On the one hand, I love holding a physical book in my hand. Reading on an e-reader still feels strange because I have to keep hitting a button to scroll through and it’s really hard to scroll to a specific page if I want to double-check something that comes to my mind. On the other hand, e-books are easier to carry and seem to have brought in a lot of younger readers who would never touch a physical book. I guess I’m all for the modern trends if they get people to read instead of turning people off.
    2. I know a lot of younger people who refuse to read e-books. They talk about the traditional way being the best way and how you can’t lose a physical book to a computer crash/virus. Though, excessive water seems to be the bane of all book forms. I think the digital library has merit because there are a lot of e-book only authors who can benefit from such a thing. I would prefer that it be combined with a traditional library, especially since a lot of books are not available in digital form. My local library has a digital and a physical book system, so people can go for what they prefer. Going one way or another would end up excluding some people.
    3. I guess I sort of already answered this. My library has a decent level of technology, but they don’t have any e-book readers set up. I would be concerned about people hogging the e-book devices.

    • Hi and thanks so much. I have the same back-tracking issue with e-readers as you pointed out in #1. If an e-reader or tablet truly does get more people to read I’m all for them but not to the exclusion of the printed page. It’s heartening to hear that younger readers you know appreciate a bound book. Ha ha and agreed that excessive water would have the same effect on both methods. :) I too, hope the future allows for the peaceful co-existence of printed and digital media in our public libraries. Hogging e-readers would definitely be an issue and I also think keeping them maintained would be another. I envision “out of order” signs frequently being posted given the amount of usage and rough handling. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

  59. Pingback: Here It Comes: The Bookless Library (Sooner than I expected) | Reading My Future

  60. Great article. I’ve studied this in school as I have a love for books (I even wrote a business plan that addresses this very thing). My entire life I’ve hung out in libraries and book stores. I love the smell of pulp and the tactile sensation of a physical book. I love technology as well and have an e-reader to carry around my library with ease. Plus, with e-readers a light source isn’t needed if you feel like reading in low light or the dark. Anyhow, my research shows that hard copies are going anywhere and publishing houses will adapt. There is also a tremendous amount of work to be done to get everything converted to digital media. Now, think of this on a global scale and the work is going to take a VERY long time. I say there will be a balance and the two can coexist quite nicely, even compliment each other. Thank again. “follow” :)

    • Thank you so much! I agree that it will be a very long time before everything will be converted to digital media. I don’t think I’ll see it in my lifetime but even if I do, I still intend to try to leave this world carrying a bound book with me! :)

  61. The digital world is an amazing development I think, and I wish people would stop being so negative about the change. Nostalgia is all good and well, we all long for eras long gone, but in reality these changes are going to improve our quality of life. Books, films, music all available in one place, and for the large part for free (if you look hard enough). On my Kindle I’ve recently bought several really amazing books (including Life of Pi) from the 20p section. If I was to go into Waterstones I’d expect to pay £6.99 for the exact same product. Like any change, people will say they prefer hard copies. But like electric cigarettes which are now seeing a rise to prominence as they are essentially the same thing but without the bad stuff (the same can be said really for digital media, being the same thing but without the price tag), future generations will look back and laugh at our old-fashioned sorry asses.

  62. This is one of my worst fears. As much a s I love my smart phone, when it comes to books I’m VERY traditional. I wouldn’t touch a Kindle with a barge pole, not to talk of an e-library. Please keep our books alive people!

  63. I personally believe the real necessity is for the knowledge. Though personally I prefer having a bound hardback. I cannot ignore the fact that I have nearly 50 books currently on my iPhone. The ease of having so much to read is the most valuable thing to have for me.

    • I agree, there’s no contest when you compare the convenience between the two types of media. I just want to have both options available rather than one overtaking the other. Thanks for taking time to comment!

  64. I’m a reader of both physical books and e-books. I can’t see libraries without books, there’s nothing like going to the local library and flicking through some of the books and discovering something new. As a previous commenter mentioned, here in the UK Government cuts are being made to libraries, mine is now only opened limed hours on 3 days of the week term time and even less in the school holidays. My son, nearly 11 loves books and enjoys visiting the library himself – for the Horrible Histories series of books in particular.

    I just hope that physical books stay around and can happily be used side by side with e-books.

    Great post and I’m glad I found it.

    • Thank you so much for the compliment. Such a shame that libraries are closing or operating at limited hours because of budget cuts in the UK. I hope that doesn’t happen here in the US as we may be in for some very large budget cuts as the powers that be in Washington have warned us are coming starting this year and continuing through 2016. I really don’t think that we will have to worry about all digital libraries for the foreseeable future since we aren’t adequately funding them as they are now. I do think it is so important to begin a dialogue about it. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  65. Really interesting post, thank you. Here in England we are closing libraries because of government cuts -two in my area over the past year or so (Stoke on Trent)

    I had a guest blogger for about twelve posts. He is a retired university professor in his mid 80`s. His subjects were classics and he had books published from Ancient Greek to English. He found universities and major city libraries were taking his (and other) books off their shelves. He used my blog to highlight some books that libraries were simply throwing away in the skip/dumpster.

    The changing nature of libraries is very interesting. My fear is that they will only house popular books – Harry Potter, Shades of Grey, etc. What happens to less popular ones? Probably go the same place as the books of my guest professor I guess.

    As a lover of books I am glad to have found you and will click to follow.

    • Thank you so much. What a shame! I can’t believe they would throw those books in a dumpster! I can see the closing of public libaries happening here in the US (perhaps it already is) due to budget woes. As it is, libraries in low income areas reflect the struggle. They are poorly stocked and maintained. It’s more like going to a flea market and having to choose a romance novel when you’d rather read historical non-fiction. Thanks so much for the follow. I will visit yours and follow after I finish responding to these fabulous comments.

    • Those are precisely the kinds of books libraries should keep in physical form — the odd ones that aren’t checked out often. It’s the Harry Potters and the Shades of Grey that would do best in e-book format, and this could free the shelf space for the less frequently consulted books, preventing them from being thrown out. What a terrible end for precisely the kind of arcane knowledge that libraries were created to house, the kind of knowledge that can open a world for someone that they never even knew was there.

      I know that Rowling herself is a classics nuts; she’d be horrified.

      • I’d support your suggestion whole-heartedly! A workable compromise and let’s hope if the demise of the printed word becomes a real threat that Ms. Rowling and other high-profile literary folks will loudly voice their opposition! Thanks so much.

      • I wasn’t so much saying that she would be opposed to the disappearance of physical printed matter so much as she would be horrified that dwindling shelf space would have resulted in classics books being tossed into a dumpster. She’s such a classics lover herself.

        I imagine that she probably also likes the feel of printed matter in her hand, but I guess I’m just saying that the ultimate problem is that the challenge of keeping things in limited, expensive space results in the destruction of information, and that is the actual loss. Moving more ephemeral — and not less worthy, merely more ephemeral — works into the cloud will enable libraries to maintain the more esoteric information that is least likely to find its way to electronic form. No more classics texts relegated to the trash.

  66. Ugh. A bookless library sounds terrible. To me, there’s nothing better than having a REAL book in my hands. Something is lost when I read things on a screen… A great post on a very timely topic. Thanks for sharing!

    • Recently I did 10 days in a rehab facility due to surgery. Taking a laptop with e-books to kill the time I came to the same conclusion a Jessica. Glad I’m not alone!

      • I hope you are on the mend! The way I’m seeing comments as they come in I don’t, at the moment, see the comment from Jessica that you mentioned so I can’t address the conclusion. In your case though, having to spend time in a rehab facility, I’m sure you appreciated having your laptop filled with e-books to keep you connected to the outside world. Believe me, I’m all for technology…I just want to be able to have access to printed books and libraries. I don’t understand why both couldn’t co-exist as we evolve technologically. Thanks so much for commenting.

      • The only way this model would work as a self-sufficient business is with DEEP pockets of external funding or by charging for services. The beauty of public libraries is that the information is ‘free’ to all. Yes, support for most public libraries comes from the general public/property owners as part of their taxes, but public libraries don’t charge an admission/user fee. I don’t see the Liseum model as a feasible replacement for general public knowledge if the business model requires admission or usage fees.

      • Yes, I have to agree. The cost is a huge factor and I honestly don’t see this model becoming widely duplicated for just that reason. Thanks so much for commenting.

  67. We have a very nice public library. It is a nice quiet space to sit browse and chill out. Its an escape zone.I think it is more about the space and place than the books.Libraries are places to go to for people who are jobless,retired ,under employed, searching for answers and so on. The digital aspect of libraries is very good for people in this head space. Browsing through shelves is easy. My research skills online are not crash hot I tend to read a hard bound book over a digital one.I have digital e books on my lap top but i tend not to spend much time on it. I don’t reject it.I prefer sitting in a kind of sofa than sitting up at a desk and chair where you normally find the desk top computer. Thewhole desk computer chair thing feels too much like hardwork.Libraries need more lounges sofas and coffee machines. Laying backon a sofa it would be good to have some kind of overhead interface that beeps on that yoiu do not have to hold up with your arms. I think digital technologies have a little bit more to do yet tomake the experience of reading nicer on a computer or ebook. It will come. I think things have come along way already and I believe there are big changes ahead.We will adapt. We have sofar.

    • So well said. Libraries are a haven for so many and it’s no just about the books but the whole experience. I agree that technology has more to do before reading a book on a digital device is more enjoyable but I don’t think it will ever take the place of the experience of reading a bound book. Your description of libraries with lounges, sofas and coffee sounds a bit like a Starbucks with books! I’ll have a Pike Place Venti with a good read, please! :)

  68. We have a section looking like that photo in my library, it’s the study area! Digital copies are available and it surely makes studying easier when you don’t have to keep a pile of books the size of Everest balancing beside you!
    When your work is done and you need to relax and recharge you mind you do what you’ve always done at the library. Walk along the endless row of books, running your fingers across as you read the titles, every once in a while,often for a reason you don’t know you, take out a book and turn a few pages before putting it back! Eventually you find what you didn’t know you were looking for and bring the book home. You read it , curled up on your sofa or even bring your new friend to bed! When your done you return it to the library and do it all over again.
    I love what technology brings us, I can email a friend if I’m running short on time , Skype with family to see how they are! But that doesn’t come close to the joy I feel when they’re actually here and I get to give them a hug.

  69. It is an interesting concept. My husband and I always dream about having a used book store but it is so unrealistic with everything changing so fast. I find it so weird to think of a world where my future kids would not have used book stores. I am happy that libraries are finding a way to stay with the times but part of me is sad that at some point books will be a collected item.

  70. Pingback: Here It Comes: The Bookless Library (Sooner than I expected) | daisychainlove

  71. I, personally, would be very sad to see a decline in the use of printed books in libraries and schools. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against e-readers and I do own one myself, but there is something special about curling up with a good book and a cup of tea and having to manually turn the pages rather than simply pressing a button.

    That being said, digital can be a lot easier. I have recently had to indulge in a second bookcase that I don’t really have the space for to fuel my book habit. Having all of my books on one single device that I can easily slip into a handbag would be much simpler and would probably do my back a lot of good since e-readers are far lighter than their paper counterparts.

    In terms of an all digital library, I must admit that I am not enthusiastic. Library, to me evokes endless hours of browsing shelf upon shelf of books, pulling out likely titles, scanning the covers and then passing judgement. There is a certain atmosphere in a library of peaceful quiet with the weight of millions of words surrounding you. Computers have an entirely different atmosphere. I see no problem with incorporating computers into existing libraries but I believe that having dedicated digital libraries would take away some of the unique magic that a paper book possesses. Maybe that’s just me. I’ll certainly be interested to see if anything ever comes of the idea.

    • Hi and thanks so much. I agree with all of your points. Let’s hope it isn’t an issue of one overtaking the other but the luxury of having both methods available to us.

    • I understand how you feel but hopefully the reality won’t be as depressing. A happy balance of both choices is what I’m hoping for. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

  72. Books in print will eventually become obsolete. Just remember the VHS recorder was replaced by DVD and the DVD is being replaced by the Internet. The next phase of print-to-digital evolution will be holographic projectors that will replace digital monitors. Books printed on paper will become a valuable on the auction market in the next 100 years. It takes time for people to adjust to new technology when we have been born reading on printed textbooks since elementary schools and graduate school. The cost will eventually become affordable for everyone.

    • The cost, currently, is definitely one of the deterrents that will slow the moving forward to the concept of an all digital world. I have to agree with you on the reality of it as time goes on. I would still like to see the continued publishing of books however, even if on a smaller scale. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

    • Alan, I think you are getting ahead of yourself. The DVD has a long way to go before it is replaced. Netflix still offers DVDs, Redboxes are insanely popular, and most movie studios make most of their revenue from DVD sales. Those of us who are tech-savvy forget that we represent a very small segment of the population.

  73. I think the growing trend in vinyl records is a good example that more and more people are realizing that technology is advancing almost too fast, at least too fast to keep up with. I just bought a new cellphone yesterday, my first in two years, and I guarantee it’ll be phased out in the next six months for the next big thing. I don’t know how people manage to buy a new iPhone every time the new one comes out, they must all be lawyers. As far as reading goes, I still don’t own an e-reader and don’t foresee one in my near future. I’m only 29 but I still prefer to turn my pages. I can see how reading on an e-reader is convenient and I would probably buy one if I had a long commute on public transportation. I think technology in libraries is great and everyone should have access to the latest technology, but I don’t think most libraries can a. afford to keep up with technology, and b. afford the maintenance and training that goes along with it. On top of that, most libraries I’ve been to already have computer labs, but they still have books. I think the current formula of online databases and computer labs in libraries along with their existing collection of books is working just fine. I don’t see the point in getting rid of the books.

    • I purchased my first i-phone only 2 years ago and was able to afford it because my cell phone provider offered a great discount. I’m really wanting the newest version now and my provider is offering a good deal so I’ll probably spring for it. I think there have been one or two versions in between mine and the latest model. I don’t find the need to upgrade to each new version though as many do. Plus, do you know what happens to all of our discarded phones, computers, etc? The waste is beyond belief and we are shipping alot of the garbage to foreign countries like China because we’ve run out of room. As a nation we are going to have to address the waste issue but that’s a discussion for a future post! Thanks for your comments!

  74. Real books, definitely.
    That “digital library” isn’t a library, it’s a computer lab, which is fine. But don’t pretend it’s a library. It seems more likely that under-served kids would develop a love of reading if they had affordable portable reading material, like say, paperback books? It’s nice to teach those kids to use electronic gadgets, but they can’t take them home, and they aren’t affordable. Give them computer labs to learn computers and books to learn to love reading!
    I think all this e-reading will calm down, and people will always enjoy the sound and feel of a page turning — not to mention turning down the corners of a page and underlining favorite passages! I have books that contain my deceased mother’s scribbled comments in margins, plus a few tea stains. Precious.
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • How sweet to have books with your mother’s comments in the margins..and the tea stains. What lovely memories that must evoke! The printed book and the experience of spending time at the library is beyond books, reading, etc. Both are a place to go to lose yourself and step away from the daily routines of life. Magical! Thanks so much for the congrats on being Freshly Pressed and sharing your thoughts!

  75. I enjoy the convenience of electronic books, but it is a poor substitute for the weight and texture of a bound book. My childhood and so many moments of my children’s childhoods are stored between the pages of our favorite stories; illustrations and texts rustling new dreams with each turn of the page.

    • I agree on all counts. I have 3 grandchildren and have given each of them books in which I’ve written personal messages. I can’t think of a better way to be remembered than to have one of them open one of these books and know there is a part of me that will always be with them. Thanks so much for your lovely comments!

  76. I am all about convenience. As much as I love a good bound book, it is just not practical for someone like myself who is always on the go/travelling. I got a tablet last month, and I have managed to read 5 novels in the last few weeks something I have never done because of my busy lifestyle. In addition, I have taken on a new found love for reading because of technology (i.e. FP blogs). Having said that, I would think technology will encourage more readers, more thinkers, and conveniently allow others to be more informed.

    I am trying to find a true significance for e-libraries, more so, site libraries. Unfortunately, I do not see the value other than promoting the latest tech gadgets. My questions with e-libraries are:what happens to librarians? Will they have to be IT specialists as well? Is that creating or eliminating jobs as their skill set would change?

    At the end of the day, books will always be our foundation, but technology is the way forward. And like other opponents with technology, I can’t see a cost efficient way for them to co-exist in modern libraries.

    Just my thoughts on this..
    Great post!

    • You make many good points and especially that technology could actually encourage more of us to read. That would definitely be a plus! I’m a lover of technology too so I’m not discouraging it in any way but would only hope that we never lose the tactile experience we get at a library. I agree when we travel a lot it makes more sense to do our reading from a tablet or e-reader. But, when I’m home I always go for the printed book. I love the touch, the feel, the weight and the anticipating of turning a page. Thanks so much for your insightful comments!

  77. Love this post! I’ve never seen a photo of a “paperless library” before. It looks so futuristic, (and somewhat cold) next to the shelves of well-loved bound books in the small library where I work. We don’t have e-books yet, primarily due to the cost factors you mentioned. Also, many of our patrons are elderly folks who have no desire to purchase or use e-readers. E-magazines post fewer difficulties though. Patrons can access them on a regular PC or laptop, so there’s no need for special software or gadgetry. They can also save and print articles right away, which comes in handy with seasonal cooking mags. I hope we get this service soon. It’s not talked about much in the great bound vs. electronic debate, but I think it’s a good compromise between paperless libraries and paper-packed libraries. (All those back issues add up after a while.)

    • Thanks so much! I’m thrilled you loved this post. It’s additionally so helpful to hear from someone who actually works at a library. I like the idea of a compromise. I think we’ll see the end of the print magazine before books. Case in point, Newsweek after 79 years in print, recently changed to an all digital format. I think newspapers will follow the all digital trend in the not too distant future too. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and thoughts!

  78. Pingback: The Bookless Library Has Arrived | Spared Muse

  79. I enjoy the feel of a book and turning the pages. I don’t have a problem with switching over to e-books. I want to publish an e-book in the near future. Love tech and think its fascinating. Change gives me excitement goosebumps.
    I agree that many communities should have both types. I have found that elderly, if taught in a fun entertaining manner enjoy learning new tricks.
    I am a Mac advocate but have gotten used to Windows. Mac is just so much easier to teach and understand. It is a lot more fun!
    Thank you for the article.

  80. 1. i use well technology that i need. but i love most to read a real book. i always bring one or two books wherever i go.
    2. No i was born in 80s. i oppose it. i want to make a public library at my neighbourhood. I’m collecting the book.
    3. Yesss, i do.

    • Thank you so much for answering the questions I posed. It’s nice to see that we still have many of the younger generation who are still in love with the physical book and don’t want to see it disappear in the future!

  81. Very interesting. I did a paper for graduate class last year about school libraries of the future. My group,took a kiosk like approach in which the kiosk could be a part of a traditional book library. Seems to me that a blended approach would make most sense at this would honor the folks who love to hold actual books and would also appeal to the techno-types as well.

  82. I like to quote Bob Dylan too. My bet,though, is that it’s fine to say ‘Your old road is rapidly agin’ Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand’ when you’re young and feel immortal. I bet Dylan thinks differently now. E-readers are terrific if you’re using them as a tool rather than a replacement. But then I’m of a certain age. My grandchildren enjoy hard copies because I buy them or take them to the library, but if the local library mutates into something electronic, I doubt that they will miss hard copies. Oh, dear, I know what a dinosaur looks like.
    Good ;post.

    • Thanks so much and I agree that children today would probably not miss hard copies if libraries were mutated to an all digital format. Thinking ahead to future generations…you don’t miss what you never had. This assumption is true in general but future generations will still be born with 5 senses, touch, taste, feel, smell and hearing. I would hate to see a future where any of these senses may no longer be of no use because we evolved ouselves right out of them. Thanks for taking the time and for your thoughtful comments!

  83. I am pro-environment, but in this instance I am a tree killer. When it comes to reading reports for my research, or books, I like to hold it in my hands and I like to be able to write in the margins. PDF offers memo options, and highlighting options, but it is not the same… and some books/reports are made into pdf’s that do not have highlighting/memo options. So I still prefer printing out articles and getting bound books to the electronic versions. I am aware of the tree killer implications, but I just read better when it is not electronic.

    • Thanks for sharing. I think there can be a balance between wasted paper and all of those discarded devices that get thrown in the dump to make way for the newer, faster, better. There is much on the subject of the environment that needs to be addressed.

  84. My background is of a writer. I also consider myself a philosopher of what a life purpose is and how one may reach it. I always envisioned myself producing real, physical paper books, until the last few years and I’ve had some success building my website and posting all my writing, and others writing on it with great success. I’m not focused on writing great paper books anymore. Now I just want to build an awesome site, with strong writing as the centerpiece, and as long as people are reading and enjoying it, I don’t care what the physical aspect looks like. My attitude on everything is: whatever creative expression helps take you to your life purpose, then that’s what you need. Paper or not, as long as your getting there. Check out my site at.

    • That’s wonderful. I agree with your general philosphy that whatever creative expression takes you to your purpose. For many of us, judging by all the comments here, it is still a tactile experience that moves and inspires. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Continued success with your writing and website. I’ll stop by to visit soon!

    • I agree. It does seem drastic. I hope the future will make for a more compatible existence of the two! Thanks for sharing the link to the informative and inspiring article.

  85. i see the digital library as being able to coexist with a book filled library but i certainly dont like the idea of an all digital library. perhaps being a digital library is just a different type of archive, period. books will never go away because people dont want them to go away and i can easily see in the future that books will become cheaper to print than it will be to mine the earth’s rare minerals to create technology from coltan ore. plus, the rare earth minerals that are being used are derived at a very high price. this special type of ore needed to create ipads, tablets and cell phones destroys the environment , 70% of this ore is located in the Congo and is mined by children under the worst conditions. one ounce of this ore is 50 times more valuable than an ounce of gold. so these digital libraries come at a very high price.

    more than half of the gorilla population in the Congo has been wiped out and is near extinction because of loss of habitat due to mining this ore. children working in 60 meter deep tunnels with no structural reinforcement and no ventilation system , take their lives in their own little hands, to scale down 60 meters to hand extract the ore and then climb back to the surface. the kids can only remain in the tunnel maximum one hour because of the poor air quality and if the tunnel collapses …that is it. there are no rescue teams and no safety measures what so ever. mining of this ore is worse than “blood diamonds” and far more dangerous.

    so the next time anyone feels like tossing out their old cell phone , think twice. tech companies want these digital libraries because they want the millions and perhaps billions of dollars to set up the system and they have set up elaborate media campaigns to spread the propaganda that a digital library does not kill trees and does not wipe out forests but they do not tell you how children die to extract this ore which is a vital component to cool every cell phone and every ipad and every computer.

    at least now we can recycle paper to print books. therefore dont throw away your books!

    • Wow! Thanks so much for the education. You tapped us into so many other pitfalls. I was already aware and deeply concerned about the waste and disposal methods of hardware but had no idea of the effect of mining the ore and using child labor to extract it. This is horrendous! Thanks so much for bringing this to the forefront!

      • you are welcome! i love books, not just the words written in them but their construction and materials which are used to create them. books have always been and always will be precious. bookless libraries may sprout up and co exist with book filled libraries but there is no proved fact that an all digital library will stand the test of time. to truly know if an object or even technology may survive for infinite periods of time , we would have to have digital matter in existence for at least one hundred years. i just want to keep this in perspective and i believe like any major corporation which has something to sell that we all be realistic about what the technology is actually capable of doing and what has so far been proved to be fact. digital information can be wiped out in a pulse of a current so going all digital is not the answer and never will be. However exploiting children to mine rare earth minerals and wipe out ecosystems in order to provide digital libraries and higher stock values for digital technology producers while cutting out the author. is a global technological colonization and I find it to be disgusting but typical wall street mentality. research and development have not been carried out to find a better alternative solution to the problem of over heating microchips, which are cooled with this expensive and rare ore. it is ridiculous. essentially tech corporations have been lying to us in order to sell more ‘devices’ . these corporations have these warm fuzzy add campaigns that make folks believe that switching from paper made books to Nooks and other electronic devices , will actually save the planet and it could not be farther from the reality and truth. A book may be read with a candle and a Nook may be read with a downloadable app and the purchase of an electronic book, a battery and internet access and electricity. i’ll take the paper bound book ANY DAY over absorbing any more electro-magnetic fields from a Nook or tablet.

        so glad I have lifted your paper book spirit! hope we can keep the conversation going on the reality of technology and its long term effects on the world and our environment ;-)

      • Thanks again Vincent! I agree, we must keep the conversation going. I’ve learned so much from this little post that I never could have in a million years predicted would have resulted in the number of not just comments but substantive comments like yours. I’m really blown away by it all. I will do my part to keep the fire burning!

  86. I am 25 and don’t use an e-reader and always wrote my notes for uni down onto paper rather than typing on a laptop or electronic notebook. I am not opposed to technology advancing or e-readers, because I really do think they are a good idea and have their uses. But I also love the feeling of real books, the smell and the look of them on the book shelf! I don’t think a house would be a home without real books. I also love the fact that books can be passed down to family members and friends which means that books can carry real history with them. The covers tell a story alone. The look of that digital library makes me feel even more protective about books and book stores.

    • Loved your post..thanks for the link. I’d have to say I’m in between, with one foot in the new and one in the old. I’ll never give up the printed book though. It’s my favorite way to read. Thanks for stopping by!

  87. I’m up to date in most technology aspects–blog, smartphone, etc–but I still don’t read books digitally. Not because I wouldn’t like to, but because digital books are a lot more expensive than my $1 purchases at the Half Price Bookstore. I would love to be able to download digital books from the local library on my computer at home, and onto my nook which I bought a year ago and haven’t used yet. Another reason I would like digital books, especially downloadable digital titles form the library, is that I’m terrible about returning books. And with digital titles, that’s not a problem. You simply don’t have access to them after a certain amount of time.
    Great post.

    • Thank you! I have to agree with your points and yes, the cost is a real deterrent. I’d love an iPad but it’s going to have to wait. I did upgrade from a PC to a beautiful Lion OSX iMac all-in one and I love it. My laptops were going on 7 years old and it wasn’t economically viable for me to keep paying to have them serviced. Returning books used to be an issue for me too but now that I have the luxury of spending more time at the library it’s not an issue anymore. Our busy lives definitely play a role and we are always going to choose the most expeditious route. Still, I love having printed books around me and I think it will likely always be my preferred method of reading. I appreciate your thoughts and thanks for stopping by!

  88. For me, the changes have been really hard to swallow. I spent most of my life writing and, when I could find the courage, submitting my work to literary agents in the hopes of getting a traditional publishing contract. Seemingly overnight, the industry transformed. The gatekeepers fell to the wayside, self-publishing became hip, and social media became about (often shameless) self-promotion. I haven’t self-published my finished work, because I can’t give up the old dream. Plus, I like the brick walls. Anything too easy isn’t worthwhile. As far as digital books go, I buy them by the hundreds. I love never being without a book (or 200 or so of them, actually). But I do feel digital reading somehow lessens the experience. Holding a book, owning it, deciding whether or not it deserves a permanent place in the home–these things matter. Naive as it may be, I have nothing against “big publishing” and I hope big publishing finds a way to survive. I hope that there will always be printed novels, bookstores, racks in airports, etc. If printed books become what vinyl is to the record industry today, I think it will be a sad thing. And if an established publisher offered me a publishing contract, but planned to release my work digitally only (say to cut costs, minimize risk, etc.), it would feel like I’d only achieved a portion of the dream.

    • Hi there and thanks so much. Wow, I hope you scale that brick wall and maybe just compromise on the dream so you can get your book published. I do get it though. I’m about to dive into the process of self-publishing and it’s daunting! What is going to keep me on track though is the fact that I’ve written a children’s book for my grandchildren and I want it for them as a keepsake. If I had to go the traditional publishing route, it wouldn’t happen for me. I’m grateful to be able to self-publish but I realize that for someone like yourself who desires to enter the literary world with your work, it is an entirely different landscape. Best of luck! I hope I get to read your book one day in the not too distant future!

      • Me too. And who knows, maybe after you’re done with the book for your grandchildren, you’ll write something else. From the blog, it seems obvious that you have a great voice and the ability. Once that writing bug bites…there’s no cure.

      • Oh my, thank you so much! What a lovely compliment. I have to admit, I toy with the idea of writing a novel. I think I may have already been bitten! :)

  89. I’ve been thinking about and researching the issue of traditional ‘physical’ books versus eBooks for a long time now, and perhaps I compare them (erroneously) to the CD/DVD/video game market too much, which will eventually be taken over completely by the digital revolution.

    I’m still in two minds: part of me thinks they can and will co-exist happily (just with less printed matter than in the past), the other part of me thinks the printed book industry is doomed. I read a lot – both for pleasure and work as a researcher in electrical engineering – and I find eBooks much better when using reference books to search for facts/figures/equations, but nothing beats a real book when it comes to curling up on the sofa or in bed with something to read for pleasure. I’ve thought about purchasing an eReader, but I make use of a tablet at the moment, which also allows me to do other things, and store things like photos, music and videos, which adds an extra dimension.

    A comment on Richard’s comment above – an eBook can last forever, as long as the file exists somewhere (multiple copies better for redundancy), and digital storage is getting better and more reliable. You can fit 1000s of books on a USB thumb drive, for example. A real book is susceptible to fire, water, sun damage, etc. And besides hipsters and DJs perhaps, hardly any young people buy vinyl, and cassettes aren’t making a comeback!

    • Hi and thanks so much for sharing your thinking and research on this subject. While I haven’t done any actual research there is a part of me that feels as you do..that eventually all reading material will be read via a tablet, e-reader or another device yet to be born..maybe we will have a chip planted in our heads (haha but I’m half serious). I don’t want to think that and as I said in the post I really hope I’m wrong because I so value the experience of holding a book and turning the pages. I know we are a society that needs to get information instantly in today’s world and that makes a trip to the library or even ordering a book with overnight delivery somewhat archaic. It’s funny you mention vinyl: a blogger I follow and had commented on a post told me that in the UK vinyl is making a comeback. Still, I think it’s more likely a fad that’s come round again and can’t last in our technology driven culture. Thanks again for your comments!

      • Not a problem, I’m somewhat new to the blogging world and amazed at what I keep stumbling upon. Something my university is developing is internet-enabled contact lenses [], so your thoughts might not be too far off the mark.

        The problem for modern society is not lack of information now, but lack of how to properly utilise that information. And sorting out the “real” (truth) information from the “fake” (lies) is no easy task, especially now that anyone with access to the internet can write their own blog, post their own YouTube videos, etc. Things can go “viral” too, and not necessarily the right things! Morgan Freeman has already died a number of times on Twitter for example!

      • Just read the article on internet-enabled contact lenses…Fascinating! Yes, great question..just how do we sift through all the good and bad information we have access to? With the speed of the internet comes the loss of filtering. We are all vulnerable to it and therein lies another great topic to post about! Thanks so much the follow up!

  90. Digital libraries can exist in the digital world. This will change the role of what we call a library today because their need to exist as a physical place to borrow books disappears. In other words, simply replacing physical books with devices to access them is forcing a new technology into an old paradigm.

    The RSA had an interesting debate on some of the services that the library of the future will offer:

    It’s the experimenting with new roles for libraries that will define the library of the future. It is hard to predict the shape they will take other than to say that, in the future, the building with a pile of books is more likely to be museum.

    As to physical books, much like the hardcover survived the paperback, I think physical books will survive the digital book. In my opinion, it will probably resemble a smaller version of the hardcover market today.

    • Hi there. You make some excellent points and thanks so much for the link to the RSA debate. I’ll definitely watch it after I address all of the comments here. I think I could live with a smaller version of the hardcover market rather than seeing books disappear altogether or, as another blogger noted the possibility that bound books, if replaced entirely by digital libraries, may only be found in museums. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your interesting viewpoints.

  91. I am not sure if its possible for libraries to adapt modern times by using more technology without killing the whole system. Libraries exist to provide information whether it is in the form of books, newspapers, local history archives or the Internet. Technology is therefore only one part of a library system and I would rather it didn’t take over everything.

    • All valid points. If the focus does lean toward an all digital format I think it will be quite some time before it will manifest. Getting books licensed, the effect on the big publishing houses and the massive changes they would have to make to conform. All the legal issues that I’m sure would take years to sort out. All that and we haven’t even discussed the cost of building, staffing, purchasing and maintaining the hardware. There is much to consider. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  92. I’m wondering if there isn’t a way for the libraries to send content not to their own lent-out e-readers but to mobile devices already owned by the borrowers. In that case, the digital divide issues might be a bit more manageable since there is some evidence that mobile devices are more commonly used by people on the lower end of the economic spectrum of things than laptops. Basically, the poorer you are, the more likely you are to use some sort of smartphone as your only and dominant means of accessing information rather than having a smartphone, laptop, AND an ipad as wealthier folks do.

    I think if there could be lending policies that could deliver content to devices already owned by the community, that would definitely help. There needs to be a way to register one’s own personal device WITH the local library for content delivery. That would also solve the issue of requiring staff to train community members to use unfamiliar devices. It would also ameliorate the fears of device theft.)

    • Excellent points! The only thing I would ask is, if your concept of delivering the content directly to one’s own personal device came to pass, why would we need a library at all? The databases could be housed anywhere and given the way technology is going most of it will probably be stored “in the cloud”. Your concept would certainly be economically attractive and also, as you also pointed out, remove the fear of device theft. Well said!

      • There will always be things that can’t be gotten or best appreciated on a small, portable device. Certain books just work best in paper format — art books, some how-to books, etc. I think the portable devices might work best for very text-heavy and time-dependent stuff, or things that people are often content to read once and not keep around to reread. Best-sellers, pulp paperbacks, some nonfiction, etc.

      • I agree. I adore art books and currently reading about the life and works of Cezanne which is on loan from my local library. It just wouldn’t have the same effect for me if I was viewing it on a portable device. I also draw and use art books to enhance my skill. Thanks again!

    • Actually, there are a couple of great resources already available for this: OverDrive (which allows users to borrow e-books to their own digital devices – including Nook, Kindle, Apple, and Android-based devices) and OneClick Digital (for audio books). For my library, the only registration required is a library card account, and users transfer materials either by platforms such as Amazon or iTunes or directly to their computers/devices. They’re easy to use, too (I’ve met several new e-reader owners who are already proficient users of the e-book service).

    • That system exists, and it’s called Overdrive. My local library has a contract with it and I download books to my iPod all the time.

      The library is currently a necessary middleman because they negotiate and pay for the licensing of the media. The access period is limited, like with physical library media (after 4 weeks or however long, the file expires). Also, a limited number of people can access the file at one time, even though in theory, a digital file is infinitely shareable. This is all part of a publishing industry that would still like to continue to support itself financially, which I see as currently the biggest obstacle towards 100% digital media.

      • Amazing…thanks so much. I had no idea there was such a system. Given the time it must take to negotiate and license would I be incorrect in my assumption that the content that can currently be downloaded via Overdrive is quite limited at this point in time?

      • @bookpeeps: Yes, because Overdrive is just a technical platform, its content is limited to works that have already been digitized as ebooks or audiobook files by their individual publishers. If an ebook has never been made of a certain title, it will not be accessible by Overdrive.

        There are also checkout limitations similar to limitations on physical media that I described in my earlier comment.

        It’s still an excellent system, and you should check in with your local library to see if they have it or anything like it.

  93. No. Leave the books where they belong. How will the people read when the power fails? I have seven iBooks, and countless books and magazines. I don’t have to charge my paper reads, but definitely have to charge my iPad. Will the libraries be solar powered? No? Such a strain the modern library will put on our resources.

    Imagine being a child who wants to read e-books at home but the family cannot afford one for each of their five children. They cannot do required reading at home, so they fall behind. Kids kill each other for sneakers. Can you see them killing for an e-book reader?

    • You make many fine points. I personally would like to see a balance…Books and Digital. We do have to keep up with technology because it is here to stay, like it or not. Yes, it is VERY expensive…at least at this point in time. Remember the first electronic calculator that came out in the 60’s? They were very expensive and mostly purchased by corporate America but it was definitely a luxury item for the average individual. It took some time, but the price has dropped dramatically. I don’t know if prices will drop for our technological hardware but its something to think about. We, as a society, must come up with solutions so that lower income communities are able to have access to current technologies and educational resources. Unfortunately, this is not a new problem. We’ve really failed in that regard. Thanks so much.

  94. I’m a bound book lover. Not that I am opposed to electronic formats, but there is an art and beauty in the complete work of a bound book that seems to be missing from e-books. Each one is like a child in your hands; all different in their own way, but no less loved. I just don’t get that with e-books.

    • Beautifully said! That is my issue with e-readers too (it’s kind of a cold experience compared to the magic of the bound book). Having said that, I have an e-reader and I do use it occasionally. An e-reader or tablet definitely have their place. They are so easy to travel with and, as one other commenter noted, when your eyesight isn’t what it once was, you can adjust the print on an e-reader or tablet whereas the only way to enlarge the print of a bound book is by using a magnifying glass. :) Thanks for your thoughts!

  95. I believe I was in high school when I first heard about the idea of a bookless library (about ten years ago), so this doesn’t strike me as sooner than expected.

    Personally, I find it much easier to concentrate while reading bound books than articles on computers, so in some ways I hope bound books stay around forever.

  96. Here’s a somewhat random response:

    I think that I’m a person who tends to be with or just behind the latest. I chose that place because I like to avoid the ‘pests:’ bugs and fixes needed on the first run of so many of our new gadgets.

    When it comes to a book, however, I’m still reaching for a paperback or hardcover over my computer. I think as long as people still like to hold books in their hands there will be a need for libraries and bookstores.

    I think our number one priority with youth and at risk communities is getting them to read. Does it really matter if it’s by computer, tablet or paperback?

    • Hi and thanks so much for contributing to the discussion! Until I switched from a PC to a Mac, I too, was purposely lagging behind waiting for the kinks to get worked out and reading countless reviews when some new version of something was released. This was true for me with software too! I wouldn’t even install updates to Word until I talked to 37 people who were using it and read all the techy reviews. Like you, however, when it comes to reading, I much prefer the experience of holding a book over any digital device. You make an excellent point that our first priority is to get kids to read. I don’t think it is just an economic issue but more of a societal one. Kids would much rather watch TV or play video games than pick up a book…even if it’s on an iPad.

  97. . I have trouble reading because of sight problems. Computer screens really strain my eyes after just a few minutes. Readers are nice and it’s easy to carry vast material that way, but I find them somewhat of a hassle at times to keep the flow of reading going smoothly. I am a book lover and I practically have an actual library myself. I rescue books people are throwing away. Not slamming technology because, it is great, but please save the “hard copies”. I am not a doomsdayer, but if there was some sort of wide scale disaster, the printed word may be all that’s left of stories and information. However, I am all for people having access to the use of technolgy and the chance to learn how to use it

    • I’m sorry for your sight problems and certainly understand the strain computer screens cause even for someone who has no sight issues. For you, I’m sure it’s magnified (no pun intended). I used my reader most when I was commuting a long distance to work. I was also carrying a laptop and 2 phones so a heavy hard cover book would probably have sent me over the edge! :) There are definitely pluses to e-readers…especially for someone like yourself with sight issues because you can adjust the print size and, on some, the contrast, brightness, etc. I agree with saving the hard copies for posterity! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  98. I’m a librarian. I’m over fifty. I only recently got a smart phone. I read a lot (over 200 books last year, 10 of them on my iphone). I’ve been an active users of libraries all my life (I was born poor and still struggle over buying books that I will only read once). Plus, if I bought all I read I wouldn’t have money for anything else.

    There are advantages to ebooks. It’s hard to get large print books in the genres I read and hardcovers feel heavier then they use to. But reading on my iphone is like reading paragraph by paragraph. I am looking at buying a tablet so that my ebooks look more like print books and so that I can read blogs/websites sitting in a comfortable chair rather than at a desk.

    Traditional libraries are making ebooks available to borrow and are running up against (mostly) publisher’s restrictions and objections. I’m waiting for the day that every book is easily available and borrowable in every type of library. I’m not sure that will be in my lifetime.


    • Thanks so much. Libraries are the only resource for books for some as you perfectly pointed out. The restrictions on e-books by publishers is an issue that I hope will be sorted out sooner rather than later, but I fear that will only happen when those reading by digital means far outnumbers those who don’t. You bring up a great point though… if one can’t afford to buy books how the heck are they going to afford an e-reader or tablet plus the monthly cost of internet service and the cost of downloading books?! This is why we need to make more funding available to our libraries a priority. Thanks so much for your comments.

  99. I see that the majority here are book lovers with one foot in the new world and I include myself in this number. I wonder if in building these new digital libraries if they could find a way for them to work off new greener energy sources. Then that way the money saved could be spent on extra teachers for those that have not grasped the new technology yet. I certainly would use facilities such as these and would urge people that I know to do the same.

    • Great point! We need to find greener energy sources and it would be nice if technology could be advanced to the point where the hardware didn’t have to be replaced every year (or less) in order to keep current! Thanks so much!

  100. For my birthday a couple of years ago, my sister, who absolutely loves reading and is probably the main reason I’m studying English at university, bought me an e-reader. Yes, I go to university in another country and it can be a bit tricky ferrying 30+ books per term about, but I was slightly disappointed. Three years one and my e-readers collection stands at 7 copies, while my bookshelf is about to collapse! I only use my e-reader in a literature-based emergency. Too many books to carry, not enough space in my carry-on luggage or (and which is really sad to admit,) if a book I don’t like and have to read for university is free on the e-reader format, that’s when I use it. Even though I’m only 20 years old, and yes, I might be one of those typical Apple devotees with my iPhones, iPad and MacBook, but I do not want to get to the point in my life where I physically can’t go and buy, touch, smell and read a book. The horrible thing is, I know for a fact it most probably will happen during my life time, and that saddens me!

    • Hi and thanks so much for your comments! It pleases me no end to hear that someone as young as you are prefers a printed book to an e-reader. I certainly understand the convenience of e-readers when traveling or for college required reading. I’m not against them at all, I’m just trying to keep alive the experience and tradition of the printed page for generations to come. You’ve certainly contributed to that mission! Thanks so much.

  101. A library with real books is a warm place to be drawn into. I collect old, rare and out of circulation books for my ancestors. Either written by or written about. I could put them on my computer, but bound books are a wonderful thing. I like the feel and even the smell of an old book. I can’t imagine a world full of ebooks and elibraries! But it was interesting to see what they look like. Thanks for the article.

    • Yes, I agree. I think if we could get more people to visit their local libraries and just take in the whole unique experience we would have even more support for the conservation of the printed word and for the continued support of the public library. I really believe that most of the comments made here support the idea that both printed and digital print can co-exist without one needing to replace the other. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  102. Although I use my e reader often I agree with you about how a real book is so much better. Even my local library has been advancing by being able to rent eBooks while still having normal books available.

  103. I am well over 60 and love technology – I guess I’m a geek. I have a smartphone and an ereader, and would have many more gadgets if I could afford it. I have an ereader because I ran out of bookshelf space – I have way more than 100 linear feet of bookshelves and no room to add more. I like being able to take a ‘library’ with me no matter where I am. But I also love the feel and smell of a physical book. I think this e-library is premature, but I think it could be happening in the future. I hope physical books don’t become obsolete because there may come a time when technology fails us, and I can’t imagine a world without books in some form.

  104. I used to read books on the computer and on my iPad but stopped when my head started hurting like someone was chopping away at it. Yeah, people’s eyesight is not going to get any better.

    I love normal books. The smell, and also the way you can flip through the pages. On a digital device you can’t do that.

    They’re also beginning to close down bookstores :/ People no longer read books on the buses I take, but Kindles :(

    • Yes, I think the way you will visit a bookstore will be online as is already the case but to a much larger extent in the future. Big chain retail book stores like Barnes & Noble which killed the mom & pop bookstores, will likely reap the same fate but at least they will still retain their large online presence. I can understand why from my own experience. When I go to a bookstore I treat it like a library but, of course, without the ability to take a book out on loan. The number of times I visit a bookstore compared to the number of times I’ve actually purchased something would prove my point. People aren’t supporting retail bookstores. They just want to hang out, skim the bookshelves and, if available, have a cup of coffee. A retail store that is leasing all that square footage can’t survive on coffee sales. I visited a Barnes & Noble retail store in my area recently and while they still have their cafe with tables and chairs, the book section of the store no longer has benches or chairs in it. They are desperately trying to get people to purchase. That’s why we need to continue to support our local libraries. I don’t want to lose the unique experience a visit to the library provides. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      • I agree. And one more point — in my area, in all the libraries you can’t ‘check them out’ anymore by giving them to the librarian to stamp them. You have to do it yourself from some computer. We’re becoming less social.

      • Great point! At my local library you have either the option of checking in/out by computer or face to face. I always choose the face to face even if I have to wait in line. I remember on one particular visit I walked over the the computer check out just to see what the process involved and the librarian waved me over to her and said something to the effect that it’s nice to exchange a word or two with the patrons. I just loved that! Thank you so much for bringing the social side into the conversation!

  105. I think the technology being developed is both a wonderful and dangerous thing. It hurts my heart being among the generation born in the 90’s to see so many (old and young) so willing to forget how we achieved the things we have and the steps it took us to get here and just take the newer options with no appreciation for their ‘ancestors’ if you will. I love the new book smell as much as the old book smell…i love turning pages and feeling the weight of a book. E-readers are convenient for travel purposes as well as other reasons, but I do wish people would ‘unplug’ more often and get in touch with a less technology influenced reality from time to time…I think it would make everyone a more well rounded individual.

    • I couldn’t have said it as well as you just did. We all need to “unplug” once in awhile and experience the world with our senses! Terrific comments. Thanks so much!

  106. The new generations won’ desire the “tactile” physical book. That’s what people keep failing to see. But even more shortsighted is the future existence of a library at all.

    • Only time will tell but I don’t think I’ll be around for the transformation you speak of and, frankly, that’s probably a good thing. :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  107. …..Personally, I like a bound book. I do have an e-reader and I do use it on occasion, but for me there’s just something magical about turning the pages of a book. My history with books goes back more than a few decades and yet I know I must evolve with the times because as that great Bob Dylan song goes, “the times they are a-changin”……..

    My sentiments and position exactly. And I quite enjoy having one foot in the old order, the other in the new!

  108. I enjoyed your post. Most informative.

    1.How do you feel about the general trends in technology? Are you right in step, falling behind or have no interest in technology and wish everyone would just get a life and spend more time reading a real book than using an e-reader or smart phone?

    I have an e-reader. The thing I like about it that I can set the font size when reading to suit not only my eye, but the situation/setting where I’m reading. That said, I love the feel of books. Any writer will tell you that words leap off the page differently when they’re on the compter verses on a printed page. The eyes can play tricks on us sometimes. People collect many different types of things and books are a prime example. I have one bookcase in my office to house the autographed copies of books I keep. They are prized posessions. By pulliing one out, I relive a memory of meeting the author, shaking their hand, and sharing our love of words.

    2.Do you think it’s only the older generations that might oppose the move to all digital libraries? What’s your take on this digital library concept?

    I can’t imagine an ALL digital library. That would make me very sad. I’m not sure what “age” qualifies for the “older generation”, but I have my parents in mind. Sadly, they don’t use libraries, ditigal or not.

    3.Do you think we could strike a happy balance by having books, e-readers and computers housed together as they currently are but perhaps with a real upgrade on the technology side? I know at my public library the computers are ancient and they definitely need an upgrade. Preferably to iMacs & iPads

    If libraries go all digital, who fits the bill for that?

    I really enjoy your blog.


    Linda Joyce

    • Hi Linda, Thanks so much for your comments and compliment! You’ve made some very relevant points for e-readers. I too, can’t imagine a country with digital only libraries. I do see the benefit and necessity for better technology in our libraries but as an addition to, not a replacement to bound books. With a few exceptions, libraries do not get close to the necessary share of funding that would be required to stay current. It’s a shame really that people of all generations don’t take full advantage of their local libraries. It’s one of my most favorite places to visit and linger. Thanks again for your comments! I very much enjoy your blog, too.

    • Hi and thanks so much for you comments. I’m with you on this. I, too, keep up with technology but I’m never going to replace the sacred book for an e-reader. Thanks again and have a wonderful day!

  109. 1. I’m nowhere near in step (and strangely averse to e-readers and smartphones even though other tech excites me) and completely agree with you about the magic of a bound book – for me it’s paperbacks – I devour them, and if they don’t go on the shelf afterwards they go to the charity shop.
    2. Not sure about this – when digital media came along, I thought LPs would become museum pieces, but young people in the UK are keeping the vinyl industry going and cassettes are even making a comeback!
    3. I don’t see why not, but our library’s tech is way out of date. People who use the library use all the facilities there – CDs storage has shrunk, but it’s still hanging in there, along with audiobooks in cassette form.

    The book is cheap and deathless. Computers are prone to breakdowns, powercuts and funding. Great post!

    • Hi Richard – Thanks so much for your feedback! When I was commuting to NYC by train I used an e-reader because it was easy to carry (I was carrying a laptop and 2 phones back and forth every day). E-readers have their place for sure but I always want to have access to bound books. I’m thrilled to hear that the young people in the UK are keeping the vinyl industry going! I thought it was dead…except for collectors, of course. I definitely agree about libraries needing a tech upgrade. Here in the US, it’s a funding issue that’s keeping us behind. Loved your line, “the book is cheap and deathless”…perfectly said. Thanks again…your comments are very much appreciated!

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