I went to our local public library today. Actually the entire family went to the library. My wife and I signed up for membership mainly so that my sons could start borrowing books to read. Jamie is a voracious reader even by my standards and there's no way I could keep him in new books without going broke.
It's been years since I was a library member. As a child I was a regular visitor to the library and it was that as much as anything else that fed my love of fantasy and science fiction. But as an teenager and then adult I moved to buying my own books, and more recently I started converting my book collection to ebooks (it's just so nice to have all those books with me on my phone).
There are good reasons to encourage the purchase of books, particularly in the USA where the library system doesn't pay royalties on number of check outs of a book. But I think that libraries are the second most effective method of instilling a love of reading in children. The most effective is simply having books everywhere in your house.
It was interesting to go into this library. In many ways it was just like the library I frequented as a child. And that's not a bad thing. Despite incredible funding pressure, the public library is a hold out against the rampant consumerism of almost any other building you go into.
Beyond the surface familiarity though there are changes going on. Libraries are redefining themselves slowly. Their job now is not purely to provide access to books. It's to provide access to information. There were several computers available for use; audio books, magazines and DVDs could be rented. The format is no longer the point. And while this library hasn't jumped aboard yet, some libraries are already experimenting with e-book lending.
Even though I'm in a position where I can buy books pretty much whenever I wish and I think it's important to do so to support less popular authors, I've been reminded how important it is to also support the library system. And by support I don't just mean monetary, although that is much needed, but also to ensure that their ability to lend books is not eroded by greedy companies.
- These eBooks Will Self-Destruct After Reading: HarperCollins to Libraries (fastcompany.com)
- Support your local library (hopeseguin2011.wordpress.com)
- Public Libraries ~ A Trove of Bargains (justasked.wordpress.com)
- Library eBook Revolution, Begin | Librarian in Black Blog — Sarah Houghton-Jan (librarianinblack.net)
- About SaveTheLibraries.com (savethelibraries.com)
- What should become of libraries? — Quora (quora.com)