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Old Books in Libraries. Pixabay

New Delhi, Apr 20, 2017: Of the many institutions suffering through the world’s metamorphosis from analogue to digital (real to virtual, offline to online), few are as beleaguered as the bedrock of our culture, the public library. Budgets are being slashed by state and local governments.

Even the best libraries are cutting staff and hours. Their information desks are seemingly superseded by Google, their encyclopedias are gathering dust. And their defining product, the one that lines their shelves, now arrives in the form of a weightless doppelgänger that doesn’t require shelves.


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Their information desks are seemingly superseded by Google, their encyclopedias are gathering dust. And their defining product, the one that lines their shelves, now arrives in the form of a weightless doppelgänger that doesn’t require shelves.

In the technocracy, all the world’s information comes to us on screens—desk, pocket, wrist, goggles—and no one trudges through wind and rain with library card in hand to find a single worn object.

“Libraries are screwed,” said Eli Neiburger, a Michigan library director, in a much-quoted presentation at a Library Journal conference in 2010. “Libraries are screwed because we are invested in the codex, and the codex has become outmoded.

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Gone are the days when avid readers used to sleep holding a book to their chest. Everyone wants a plug point near their bed to charge their tabs instead of a shelf to keep the books properly.

Age old is the saying that “Books are the best companion of man” but with the constantly advancing technology it seems like kindles and other gadgets are wiping away the books from the scene. No wonder, house to vast knowledge: libraries can be seen as empty spaces as the no. of book readers are reducing exponentially.

According to a survey conducted by Global Trade Talk, no. of e- readers across the world has increased to 12.8 million in 2010 and the no. has been rising ever since which evidently means a reduction in people reading the hard copy.70.8 million tablets and 16.6 million e-readers were shipped in 2012. At the end of 2015, eMarketer estimated that there are 83.4 million e-reader users in the US, with the number predicted to grow by 3.5% in 2016.

This is certainly having an adverse impact on libraries and the traditional libraries are just becoming places for “free wi-fi” where people sit and stare at their gadgets.

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However, a segment of people is still sticking to the books and has this to say regarding the latest online reading trend: Deepak Sharma, a student of Masscomedia in New Delhi said, ”Online studies are undoubtedly shattering libraries, it not only consumes eyes but also UV rays have negative impact on brain. While library gives one opportunity to act as a discoverer, connects with information and people manually and better mental exercise. Study hours, sitting postures, the incredible process of finding the desired material everything is getting a hit due to online reading and lost library culture.”

Mrs. Archana Sihag, a schoolteacher by profession says,” students are readily attracted to tabs and do not want to carry “heavy” books but it doesn’t matter how much you try, you can’t replace a book with a kindle. The feeling you get while reading a book cannot be matched with a kindle or any other means of online reading.”

Needless to say, online reading is certainly gaining popularity but people are still keeping the books around and there is a hope that this tradition will not die.

– by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @Nikitatayal6

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organisation. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our unbiased journalism. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.

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