Unnecessary Choices

By Kniffel, Leonard | American Libraries, August 2010 | Go to article overview

Unnecessary Choices


Kniffel, Leonard, American Libraries


Members of the American Library Association have been talking a lot about books these days, the future of the book as a delivery mechanism, as opposed to a quaint artifact. Readers of American Libraries have responded by writing some provocative articles about the future of the book in a digital age.

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What is often puzzling about these discussions is the assumption that we are being forced to choose between books and digital media--and that we must do it now. But we have also gone through a century of evolving media--movies, radio, television--none of which died as another was born. What they did was, well, evolve, find new niches, and create educational, interesting, and entertaining content that people wanted and needed.

Ralph Raab, a teacher of music, computers, and study skills for 20 years, argues in "Books and Literacy in the Digital Age" that you have to be literate to use the internet effectively and be able to do the kind of extended, focused reading that books make easy and enjoyable--once you've learned how.

In "Party On! at Your Book Discussions," Alan Jacobson, who teaches computer classes and leads film and book discussions, reinforces the notion that millions of people find reading books a thoroughly enjoyable pursuit that should lead not just to discussion but to celebration!

In their article "Up, Up, and Away: A Bird's Eye View of Mission Marketing," Donald Dyal and Kaley Daniel observe that "libraries must test their steel with legions of entertainment and information-gathering competitors, and unfortunately many show up in the battle line with marketing strategies borrowed from George Armstrong Custer's playbook at Little Big Horn. …

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