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Are Libraries Dead or Dying? … uh… not as far as I can tell


By basilsands - Posted on 23 September 2010

There’s a lot of talk these days about the death of libraries. EBooks are killing libraries. Online dealers are killing libraries, etc. But is there really evidence of this? Not from my perspective.
 
Our libraries here in Alaska are doing fairly well as far as I can tell. While the internal hours at the main branch have been reduced slightly I think, everything is available online as well. And during normal business hours (10am-8pm) one can go to the four story building, have a coffee and sandwich at the cafe, enjoy free wifi, and sit in one of the massive reading areas and either read or stare at the surrounding mountain vistas. One of the reading rooms is designed to look like a 1920's library with highbacked leather chairs and books (which are available for reading) from the libraries original 1920's collection lining the tall shelves along the walls. Whenever I go to that room I feel like I should be wearing a red velvet jacket and be sipping a glass of very expensive Cognac.

Honestly though, my primary use of the library is online these days. I download numerous audiobooks, and reserve any paper books I want to be sent to my local branch for pickup. The local branch is located in a shopping mall three miles from my house and looks more like a school library than a muni library. Likewise there are numerous local branches all over the city of Anchorage in pretty much every community. No one in this city of 350,000 is more than 5 miles from a library, or if they are on the computer they’re never more than a click away. Even people in the libraryless bush areas outside of the cities are able to reserve books online and have them sent to their local school for pickup.

 
Libraries aren’t going anywhere as far as I can tell, at least not in Alaska.

Cover art done by Jerry Scullion of sculliondesign.com