Libraries Are Not Dying – Just Evolving

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Libraries Are Not Dying – Just Evolving

Raysonho, Open Grid Scheduler

Raysonho, Open Grid Scheduler

Raysonho, Open Grid Scheduler

Celeste Gibson, Managing Editor

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Formerly, libraries have been hallowed ground of academia; few breathe amongst the paper and dust. Now, in the age of people checking their phones 80 times a day, according to the New York Post, libraries seem obsolete. Trump’s 2019 proposed budget cuts will take out altogether 917 million dollars from the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This will have a negative impact on America’s cultural scene and economy (Washington Post). However, nothing ever truly dies, and that includes the archaic library. Libraries have transformed by hosting Science, Technology, Reading, English, Art and Math (STREAM) summer camps, renting out movies and supplying free Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately or not, I am old enough to distinctly remember not seeing computers in libraries. Even as a precocious 9-year-old, my class sat criss-cross applesauce in the school library and learned about the Dewey Decimal system. Now we just look on the library website if books are in stock and where it’s located. Currently, it seems as though librarians have GPS chips embedded in the spines of every book and if it’s overdue, they hunt you down like Navy Seals. All joking aside, libraries are evolving and expanding into innovation-driven learning centers where the focus is utilizing technology to appeal to the 21st-century mindset. For example, Big Walnut Middle School in Sunbury, Ohio, had less than 10 children enter the library per day.  They received an anonymous donation and decided to revitalize the library. They designed the library into a tech paradise with a green-screen room, interactive touch screens, TV’s, Chromebooks and iPads galore. Big Walnut Middle School’s Library actually increased student use by 1,000%, with over 100 students coming in daily to work on projects or videos, study and research, and yes, check out books (This story came from the Cult of Pedagogy, which despite its name, is an interesting website about teaching and students! It definitely deserves a read).

Now, not every school or community library is changing this drastically, but libraries are still relevant. According to PEW Research Center,  48% of people 16 years or older have visited a public library or bookmobile in the past year. Used by the American Library Association, bookmobiles are food truck-like vans that travel to communities that might not have access to books and let people borrow books. The van comes back at a later date so people can return old books, check out new ones, and repeat the process. PEW also notes that 61% percent of library-goers use the computers in libraries for research for their work or school and 23% used the library computers for online classes.

My point is that everyone that cries that books are dead, that we have left the dusty halls behind, that we have let a bit of our culture burn away is right… and wrong. Darwin theorized that in order to survive in its environment, a species must adapt and evolve to survive. That is exactly what is happening to libraries. Perhaps we have lost something, but we are gaining something as well.