Replace Libraries with the Internet?

Busy Public Library

Here are a few of the answers when ten folks in line at a local Starbucks were asked this question by one of my library tech students:

That’s dumb
Oh for goodness’ sake!
That would just mean Google owns all the libraries
What a $%#@ nightmare!

There were others who commented  along the same lines.

What’s amazing to me is that people tend to think libraries are no longer needed in the age of the Internet, but public and academic library usage is up, and for the working poor and unemployed, the public library may be their only access to a computer and the internet. One of my students shared about a library where he is a computer aide — he helped a woman apply for a custodial position online, the only way applications were being accepted. She had little computer experience and no way to do it from home.  She gratefully used one of the library public computers.

What’s even more interesting to me is that public libraries in upscale communities such as Orinda and Lafayette, California are so valued by their wealthy constituents, who can easily afford high speed internet, the latest tech gadgets and all the ebooks they can download from Amazon. In these communities, the citizenry has voted to tax itself to expand the hours the library is open, increase programming and new purchases, and to staff them adequately.

What do you think? Are libraries on their way out? Or are they an integral part of our society?


  1. I love libraries! They are my favorite place in the whole world. Books, ink, paper – the feel of a book in my hands – heavenly! In a wise society, the library serves as a sacred space.

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