Libraries are here to stay

Libraries are here to stay

How can physical media stay strong in a world where digital media is pushed so much more? Many see libraries as an outdated form of entertainment, however, for some, it is much more than that.

“It’s a cool place to talk about books, hang out with friends, and just catch up with each other,” said freshman Dominic Bennett.

People like Bennett love what the library system has to offer and see it as a place to receive nearly infinite information, among other things. This sentiment is shared by a local librarian.

“There is a joke,” said librarian Karen Petersen, “that you can ask a librarian anything and they will know the answer.”

Even though many people know that the library has information, many people don’t take advantage of it, and in an age where most people can find almost anything with just a few clicks, many wonder what drives people to the library.

“Sometimes the library is overshadowed,” said librarian Sheryl Naibauer “ But other times with stuff like finances people would prefer that information in a book over the internet.”

Beyond the simple information part of it, a library has much more to offer. Things such as entertainment. This has led to a strong fanbase for libraries and, just books in general.

“I love the stories that books have told me,” Said Bennett, “ I have a love for the stories they tell.”

If you think that the wonders of a library stop here, you would be wrong. Many libraries work to get as many resources as possible for their users. One example of this is the library’s expansive manga section.

“Despite it not being as popular as traditional books the library still gives it good representation,” said Bennett.

Not only manga but also many other less represented things can also be found in the library. This can range from things such as magazines to things like video games.

“We have so much more to offer than most people realize,” Said Petersen,“ We have stuff like magazines that many people wouldn’t know without coming in here to look.”

Not only can the library be used for its material, but it can also be used as a space to study or learn. This is seen as helpful to many, especially students.

“ It’s very quiet and relaxing,” said Bennett, “It’s just a nice place to go if you need to study or anything like that.”

Libraries change constantly, so that they may be as effective of a resource as they can be. Many times this includes up-to-date technology that is rare to find anywhere else.

“They are always utilizing the newest technology, such as 3d printers,” Petersen said, “and giving access to people who ordinarily wouldn’t have access.”

This not only happens with 3d printing, but It also commonly happens with things such as fast internet and much more. This is especially useful for those who can not afford or get access to these resources.

“They give access to some things that would not otherwise be available like good wifi, or printers,” said librarian Sheryl Naibauer.

Throughout the years the library continues to make more and more advancements with technology. In a way, it evolves to the technological needs of its users.

“This library used to be full of computers because not everyone had them.” said Ex-Librarian Amy Hogan, “Since now people have their own computers or phones as their computers, they don’t get used as much.”

Although computer usage is way down, it is still useful to many. The main modern use of these computers is for children to play games on. Even though that may seem absurd to some, to others it is a big draw for the library.

“Technology is a big reason to go to the library,” said Bennett, “if you go to like a public library then, they got Roblox on the computers.”

Technological advancement can be hard to do as sometimes the change in technology can catch the libraries off guard, but luckily many are very adaptive. One example of this is the use of DVDs and CDs going down, because of streaming services.

“We get a lot fewer music CDs because of music services.” Said Amy Hogan “Now we provide free access to music streaming services through the library.”

They also adapt to the times by providing things such as the Allen County Public library’s new app. It essentially makes putting books on hold and looking at books a digital experience, and it works great.

“The website has made the number of late fees go way down,” said Amy Hogan,“ it also has made renewing books way easier, just a notification and a push of a button.”

Another thing is that more and more libraries have started to push e-books. They are digital books that can be read through technology like phones at any time. In fact, many theorize that they may even start to replace some physical books.

“They are just so convenient especially during a pandemic”, said Hogan, “there’s going to be a shift where they [the different types of books] will be getting to be very equal.”

These newer forms of books such as e-books and audiobooks are attracting a lot more people than they ever have, and as such many libraries try and find a way to help these people.

“I don’t know about other libraries, but we’ve done a good job with keeping up on it with e-books, and e-material,” Said Hogan, “People use it a lot and it’s been useful during the pandemic.”

Beyond this e-books give many other advantages such as variety and price. This can also give people access to overseas media, and make it easier to publish amateur novels.

“If it’s easier to read it online, then read it online,” said Bennett, “most of the time it’s cheaper online as well.”

The main goal of these new books is vast availability. They are often free, and much more portable than physical books, because of their all-digital nature. This is why they are crucial for libraries to offer to their patrons.

“I like to use audiobooks so I can do other things while listening,” said Naibauer, “they are just so convenient especially during pandemics.”

Not only this, but many libraries have programs to get kids to read. One of the main examples of this is the Allen County Public libraries’ story time for children.  However, due to the pandemic, this has had to stop.

“Usually kids get a chance to come here from birth, but now some preschoolers haven’t had the chance to do that,” said Hogan, “ it really stinks.”

Unfortunately, this absence of opportunities is not unique to preschoolers. Covid has also heavily decreased foot traffic in the public library, and during times of lockdown completely eliminated it.

“Not many books were checked out last year,” said Naibauer, “kids didn’t get to come in and just look around.”

This also impacted the users of the library, by making the library less accessible. This led to making many people use the library less and led to many not being able to fully utilize it.

“It hasn’t been used as much because of social tracking,” said Bennett,  “ I guess it’s a bit lower than it normally would be”

The pandemic has made many people question what will become of the future, and for the librarians, it is no different. There are many interesting theories about the libraries, and

” You see things in movies like a digital interphase helping someone find a book,” Said Naibuer, “ I think that’ll be the future of libraries.”

While this is an interesting theory many find holes with the use of AI. This is because it is still very much developing, and many don’t think that AI will be at this level by then.

”Of course, that won’t cover everything and librarians will still be necessary,” said Naibauer.

However, some have very differing opinions upon the fate of libraries. Another theory about libraries is that they will cease being centered on books, and rather books would be a side benefit of the library.

“Because of e-books I do think it will be more and more of a community center,” said Naibuer. “Here people can use our meeting rooms and spaces and check out books and stuff.”

This theory is backed up by many that are currently using the library. Oftentimes these people will bring friends or socialize (quietly) with others.

“I do think it’s a good place to hang out with friends,” Said Bennett, “ Books are a good way to talk to others.”

While these theories are popular, many would not support them in the future. Sometimes change is not the best for everyone, and in fact, some people would prefer the library to stay the same.

“It’d be nice if it could just stay the way it is now,” said Bennett, “because it’s quiet you got stuff to do, and it’s just a nice place.”

Despite what many people may think of e-books becoming the future, many people doubt the replacement of physical books. This is because many hold a strong preference that many people have for physical media.

“Some people will always prefer physical or digital books over one another,” said Hogan.

Regardless of what form they are in, Libraries are here to stay. There are always going to be people interested in books, technology, and anything else they have to offer. The experience and environment are loved, and could never be successfully replaced by anything digital.

“Just to come here and open up a book,” said Naibauer, “It’s kind of magical”