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What is the future of libraries?

Libraries withdraw (either throw out, resale, or recycle) print materials all the time. Many libraries say that these print materials are being replaced by resources on the web or non print resources. But with the rising costs of subscriptions, licensing, legal issues involved with copyright, privacy and what not, how can libraries provide access to all of these types of materials? Are libraries throwing out some of our heritage when withdrawing print materials? Where are libraries heading and how can they navigate the waters of freedom of expression in a digital age, security, public access, or free services.

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  • Sep 14 2011: I imagine that for the near future (20-40 years) libraries will still have a presence on college campuses if only to maintain traditions.

    As the generations who value physical books die out, libraries will loose a lot of patronage.

    It is just an example of one technology replacing another. The phone replacing the telegraph. The internet and digital technologies replacing the library for information retrieval.

    Eventually, I can see a time when physical books become a novelty kept only for the bragging rights amongst colleges, cities or those who see themselves as the educated elite.
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      Sep 14 2011: Yes what you say is true but I don't think in any near year anything could replace books. See I hate staring at the screen, I get snippets online but nothing can replace book reference.
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        Sep 14 2011: http://pimob.priceindia.in/mobile-phone/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Amazon-Kindle-ebook-reader.jpg
        You can read books from this...no staring at the screen...looks like paper!
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          Sep 15 2011: guys guys please don't replace books.. something physical is far better than virtual please..
      • Sep 15 2011: In addition to what Srijan added, imagine if you had never grown up with books.

        Try to imagine how primitive books might seem to future generations.

        Ken Robinson made an excellent point about how younger generations tend not wear wrist watches anymore because they have cell phones which can do so much more.

        We are experiencing a paradigm shift and the shift is away from physical books.
        • Sep 15 2011: This is so true. It's amazing how visual oriented we have become. Even in libraries, the DVD, streaming, and sound recording collections grow every day. Where course reserves in academic libraries were mostly books, they tend to be online resources, DVDs, or streaming videos.
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          Sep 15 2011: Books are more than information. For inquiry and research nothing can compare with the internet which gets better and better every day, but text and illustrations on a screen will never be comparable to the physical and aesthetic experience of a well made book...
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          Sep 15 2011: Still, the future is probably going to be a lot more digital resources and reading from e-readers/tablets. I really hope however that they will preserve at least a few libraries with physical books. This is partly because of the fact that it is really great to walk into a large library and be overwhelmed by the sheer number of physical books on the shelves.
    • Sep 15 2011: I agree that books will become a novelty though it will be unpleasant for me and a few friends of mine. We love the feeling of finishing a book. Closing it and setting it down. SEEING how many pages were there, what we accomplished. Reading digital books simply isn't as satisfying. Sure we get the same information but the satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment are no longer there.

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