Future of libraries: CNET’s Brian Cooley has techno-blinders on

vintage library poster

Interesting (and by that I mean I pitifully ignorant) viewpoint on the future of libraries from a technology review editor, recently.

Why would I go or deal with a library to borrow a book? You don’t have to go there, right?

This is weird. Why would a library have anything to do with virtual books? It doesn’t make sense. Locality is about physical books. They’re physically available in a certain place, so your library houses them, but once they’re virtual, locality goes out the door. It’s weird. […]

The local library’s really starting to get shaky to my mind, unless it’s for the poor, the unemployed, the homeless, and the very old. That’s what libraries are for now. What kid in high school is going to get anything out of the library? Seriously, you’ve got some ninety-year-old reference librarian who’s going to point you to what, a Britannica volume to look something up? All you’ve got to do is Google. For crying out loud.[…]

I’m a little “shaky” on the context of these comments, but librarian demographic stereotyping aside, he forgot to mention some things that I’d just like to point out, including:

  1. Not everyone has access to Google
  2. Not everyone knows how to use Google effectively
  3. There are other ways of finding things on the internet, especially when doing research, besides Google
  4. Google does not provide answers to questions. Google serves webpages that it judges as “relevant” to user “queries” which are composed of proprietarily defined (read: secret) relationships between keywords, links to and from pages, and many other variables.
  5. If, for the rest of my life, I had to read every book I couldn’t afford to purchase from a bootlegged .mobi file that I downloaded from The Pirate Bay, I would stop reading. And, I am not “poor, unemployed, homeless or very old,” either.

Just saying.

The full podcast is here, please listen to it and tell me they bring these things up. For now, I think I’ve heard enough.

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