This week’s lecture centered on why libraries exist and what is special about libraries that make them unique to the community. According to Lankes, libraries’ main reasons for existing are that they provide collective buying , economic stimulus, centers for learning, a safety net, steward of culture, cradle of democracy, and symbols of community aspirations. In a nutshell, these ideas are all based in empowering the people of the community. If libraries are all about empowering people, they sound like a pretty valuable piece of the community, yet there is still skepticism around the future of libraries.
Through my own experience, what I’ve heard from my library school classmates, and various articles and blog posts, I’ve gathered that there are quite a few people out there that believe libraries are becoming obsolete. Many people say that the internet and ebooks provide the same services a library would and these services are now accessible from home, therefore there is no reason to go to the library. Maybe this accounts for a small population of people who used the library to only check out books, but it is an over generalization to say libraries are only as good how many books they lend out.
Lankes reports a statistic that something like less than 1% of libraries have been closed during the recent economic downturn. This suggests not only that libraries are important to the community despite (and in some cases because of) economic hardship, but also that those library skeptics are missing something. Some library services may be becoming obsolete due to new technology, but the new technology is also allowing libraries to adopt more and better services.