I am in love… with libraries. In the fifth grade, I used to go to school early so that I could work with the librarian to check returned books in (yeah, I had a lot of responsibility. No big deal). I biked to our local library a few times a week every summer, and I also volunteered at a library all throughout college.
So all that said, I read about this planned “bookless” library in Texas with mixed emotions. It’s called BiblioTech and you can kiss your outdated visions of a library with actual books goodbye. Instead, there will be a bunch of technology options, like computers to use in the actual building and even e-readers that can be checked out. Side note: There must be a lot of trust in that community because those things are not cheap (this is coming from someone who stepped on their e-reader). BiblioTech is set to open in the fall and the mock-up photos do look really cool. They just don’t scream “library” to me.
I really went back and forth forrrreeevvvveerrrr about buying my e-reader. Yes, I am kind of cheap, but I also love just holding a book in my hand and flipping the pages. But even with my frequent library trips, I had been buying so many books that I didn’t need. It seemed like instead of cluttering up my room, having my reads on a digital device was the way to go. It may sound dumb, but I really felt like it was a super personal and challenging decision, especially as a writer. Do I basically turn my back on print or fall behind as things change?
I have checked out a couple books through the library on my e-reader, but I also just like going and hanging out there. I like scanning the shelves, picking out ones at random (yes, I guess I do judge some books the cover) and making an on-the-spot decision. It’s great how easily we can search for books on computers now, but there’s something fun about stumbling onto one and feeling like you discover it. With computer-based searches so common now, it kind of loses the magic.
Even though many of us are pretty savvy with computers, there’s a whole lot of people who aren’t and it can put them at a real disadvantage. A local official told NPR that BiblioTech is trying to address that lack of access and make this new library a site for technology education, which I think is so important. I totally understand that technology is the future and we need to help everyone stay up to date, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not a little sad about what will happen to my dear friends the books.
For now, I guess I’m most comfortable having a nice mix of digital and print reading material in my life. Even though I’ve bookmarked the best scenes in my e-book copy of Little Women, I still prefer to grab my copy off my shelf and find all those favorite pages I’ve marked up. Of course, I guess this doesn’t really apply to library books since you shouldn’t write in them to begin with… but quick thanks to everyone who ever wrote notes in the margins of books I checked out for school. I owe you.
How often do you go to the library? Would you be cool if your library made the switch to a “no books” model? Do you own an e-reader? Do you prefer to use that or read regular books? Tell me in the comments.