Is the Internet Eliminating the Need for Libraries?

June 8th, 2012 @

Is the Internet Phasing Out the Need for Public Libraries?

 

The world of the internet has changed our lives and the way we obtain and communicate various types of information in a very effective manner. Many people around the world depend on their home internet connection for their jobs, businesses, tasks and in order to stay acquainted with all the various forms of communication presently available online. One of the characteristic trends that have been noticed for the last decade is the lessening degree of demand for books and services available in public libraries. With the advantage of the internet, many people are obtaining all their information from websites, blogs, journals and other forms of online media and not necessarily from their local public library. This trend has come to the conclusion in whether or not the internet as a whole is phasing out the need for public libraries, while this question has its own answer, it is important to explore several factors which we will discuss below in order to expound the official answer of this question.

One of the main sources of information is still the encyclopedia. Heavy volumes of books with their own guides were written as forms of encyclopedias which remained updated as time progressed with updated versions and CD’s. The internet created many encyclopedias, including the most famous one called Wikipedia, which is now considered to be one of the best and most comprehensive encyclopedias available in the world translated to many different languages and with an open free access to whoever needs information about any topic.

With the need for encyclopedias completely gone out of the equation, the existence of books, novels and many other fiction and non-fiction works available on libraries is growing in the internet. Any kind of book can now be purchased online as an e-book and it can be read on any desired platform, as well as magazines, press releases, reviews and a wide number of publications that were originally only obtained from public libraries.

The greatest advantage to society that is not present in public libraries is the convenience of obtaining all kinds of information from the internet with a minimum effort. Sitting at home and clicking on various websites is more effective and convenient than walking or taking your car to your public library and using their catalog in order to find what you are looking for, which can you easily access at the comfort of your home without doing any of the actions mentioned. This level of convenience does not only translate to comfort but it also translates to an effective use of time in the long run. Many people who use the internet for research purposes usually include a large portion of students or professionals, which need valuable time in order to meet their responsibilities and day-to-day tasks. By going to the library, they will spend a whole lot more time researching and reading than by using their computer to effectively research the contents needed. In summary, finding information on the internet is a lot more effective in terms of time consumption and convenience.

However, there is still an existent gap between the information acquired on the internet and in libraries. One of the greatest disadvantages of the internet is that there is a great deal of material that is plagiarized, fake, corrupted or somehow misleading from the actual truths and effectiveness of its source. Many people researching a wide diversity of topics will encounter that these forms of information can cause very negative effects in their research due to their unreliability. All books, magazines and any other kind of printed information available on libraries has been effectively written, researched and approved by big name publishers who have imposed stringent guidelines on the release of that information to the public.

Even though the demand for public libraries is decreasing, the demand for the information in public libraries remains at a constant rate for specific types of publications such as books that are highly technical, manuscripts and other forms of information that is not readily available on the internet. While the demand for these types of information remains constant, the demand for other books and documents keeps decreasing with the effect of the popular growing demand of the internet around the world.

Those who enjoy the benefits of sitting at their public library reading books and drinking coffee can be effectively categorized as individuals who enjoy their public library as a quiet place to do work, read or do any other kind of activity that they do not like to do at home. While this effect can also be seen as a form of convenience, it also impacts the level of demand for public libraries since the sole motivator for people is to read books that are available in the library and prefer them to read those books in physical form instead of reading them in their electronic version. Libraries also offer internet access, reading programs and a series of other activities that are not within reach to a wide number of people, these activities cannot be found or practice through the internet and thereby present a growing sector of public libraries that attract more of their local inhabitants to stay connected within their local community.

In summary, the answer to the initial question is yes, the internet is phasing out the need for public libraries but not at an extreme level as of yet. There are still many activities, resources and information that are still needed from public libraries and have therefore not ceased to exist despite the impact of the internet. Experts agree that within next decades, the numerous technologies available and the growing demand for the internet will cause public libraries to become inexistent but there is still a long journey from today for that to happen.