I'm writing this post as a response to two videos which have been posted in the past few days. The first was posted by Ariel Bissett, who, in short, said she got out a library card, really valued libraries, but never used them. The second was a response not only to that video but also to the comments in that video, and was posted by Leena Normington. Leena argued that, among other things, libraries aren't the best way to distribute knowledge anymore - they are an antiquated system and we need to find a better one in today's metropolitan society. If you've got 20 minutes, I urge you to watch both of these videos before continuing with this post.
I fall somewhere between these two view points. I love libraries, I don't use public libraries very often (the university library is a different story), and I also agree that the current library system is in need of amendment.
I disagree with Leena that libraries are completely out of date, mostly because of my childhood and teenage years. Whilst I come from a relatively well off background, between the ages of six and fourteen I would take out about six books every fortnight. Needless to say, my parents wouldn't have been able to justify spending £84 (ish) a month on brand new books that I would only read once. Libraries are incredibly valuable in that regard, and my childhood would have been so much worse off without them. My local library is also very well used by the elderly people in the surrounding villages - people who can't get out and about in the the city to buy books, people who require large print books which are very difficult to find outside of a library environment, and people who don't use the internet so can't order books online. Libraries are vital for these people.
Where I do agree with Leena is that for the vast majority of us (those with a disposable income, aged eighteen to sixty-five) libraries are not functioning to the best of their ability. People don't have the time to wander around the shelves, pick out a book, and then remember to return it three weeks later. The solution? E-Libraries. Providing a service much like LoveFilm, people would pay a certain amount each month to have a certain number of books posted to them, with a return envelope to send them back when they were finished. I'm sure there could also be options for downloadable content which would expire after a certain period of time unless renewed.
This isn't a perfect option, and is certainly a lot less idyllic than those that Leena proposed (and that I support). But it's one that I believe would function in today's society.
In short, much like Ariel, I love libraries and I'm very sad to think that they are closing. On the other hand, they do need re-evaluating so they can function to the best if their ability.
What do you think about libraries? Do you use them? Can you think of a better solution? Join the conversation by tweeting me @VickiMaitland, or leaving a comment below. You can also tag me in your Instagram pics (@vickimaitland).