Magazine article Library Administrator's Digest

The Fall of the Library Empire

Magazine article Library Administrator's Digest

The Fall of the Library Empire

Article excerpt

Over the past several years, I have written thousands of words about the impact of the digital revolution on libraries. My main focus has been on e-books and their impact on libraries. The availability of e-books has been growing exponentially, but not in public libraries. The print publishers have seen to that.

The result of all this progress and movement has been, at least for me, confusion. I use both a Kindle and my public library - a Kindle for free or cheap books (I'm rereading a lot of books I loved years and years ago which are often free or very cheap, like ninetynine cents and are just as good as they were years ago) and my library for new bestsellers. Those are invariably print, of course.

But I'm confused as to where we are going, and the changes in library services over just the past ten years have me wondering just what our function is, or will be, in the future.

Then I came across an article which, for me, put everything in perspective. Or at least eliminated my confusion. It's much too long to put in LAD, but here's just one paragraph:

"Books are provided by Amazon, Google, Barnes & Noble, and Apple - all of whom boast much larger collections than can be found in almost any library and many of which you can have for free, just as if you borrowed them from our libraries, except that you don't need to worry about bringing them back. Those books that do cost are generally available at affordable prices that are unlikely to set back the typical reader more than the cost of a six-pack - and I note that we haven't yet seen the need to develop public institutions to make that available for free. Cataloging is provided by Google, Amazon, and the other information providers, with little or no regard for the MARC record, AACR2, RDA, the Library of Congress, or the Dewey classification systems, and the other arcane [methods] which have governed the practice of bibliographic control for years. …

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