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What Will Libraries Look Like in 20 Years?
Old 12-27-2011, 09:41 AM   #1
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What Will Libraries Look Like in 20 Years?

I've read several articles that say libraries will decline, morph and some will disappear in the years ahead, as people move to eBooks or equivalents and municipalities grapple with spending reductions. I've read that some libraries are now offering eBooks, though my local library doesn't yet (seems like a piracy concern?). Seemingly that could largely automate libraries; books, magazines, newspapers, movies, etc. - no bricks-n-mortar required?

But I have also read articles stating they will remain because of their community center appeal, though that argument does not seem to be helping post offices.

I go to the library once or twice a week to read magazines and I still prefer hardcover books, so I'm not hoping they will disappear. I've also read that it costs taxpayers about $75/year per capita to have a library FWIW. If the consensus is libraries are here to stay in our lifetimes, that would be good news IMO...
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:04 AM   #2
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My local library does offer e-books though the selection is limited. They can only check out an e-book one at a time, so I still get to wait for popular titles. Other than that, the physical library is always busy, packed with people. Why not? If I had to spend $$'s on the magazines DVD's, CD's books etc, I get for 'free' at the library, it would cost me far more than $75 a year. Plus, browsing through the library is just plain fun. How nice to find an author one never knew about, and is thoroughly enjoyable.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:12 AM   #3
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I've read several articles that say libraries will decline, morph and some will disappear in the years ahead, as people move to eBooks or equivalents. I've read that some libraries are now offering eBooks, though my local library doesn't yet (seems like a piracy concern?). I have also read articles stating they will remain because of their community center appeal, though that argument does not seem to be helping post offices. I go to the library once or twice a week and I still prefer hardcover books, so I'm not hoping they will disappear. I've also read that it costs taxpayers about $75/year per capita to have a library FWIW. If the consensus is libraries are here to stay in our lifetimes, that would be good news IMO...
Do you have some sources? That's a lot of articles--did you read them at the library?

Libraries are smart--they market themselves to all levels of people, and I see them as one of the few tax entities that everyone can directly use as much as they like.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:37 AM   #4
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My local library has just started e-books, but signing up is so complicated that a reference librarian has to walk each customer through it in person. Which means I have to go back at a time more convenient to reference librarians. Eventually this will catch on, but I don't think it will ever replace walking through the stacks and checking out a book that catches your eye.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:07 AM   #5
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Up until a few years ago, I had rarely visited any library. Ours is beautiful, and it's expanding again. Awhile back I started attending some genealogy classes at the library. I was amazed by the number of books and documents there for me to do research about the family. Now I just enjoy going to the library to browse, although I really don't get there as often as I would like due to other stuff going on. Our library offers ebooks, movies, and a staff of very knowledgable people. And it's there for anyone to use no matter where they stack up on the economic ladder. The ebook arrangements are cumbersome, but I think it is due to the book publishers who are still trying to work through how to survive in a digitally evolving world. The library is just trying to play by the rules they are given. It will be interesting to see what happens when today's youth become middle aged. Will the library be a storefront where after you get your digital library card you sit in some nice chairs while you read your iPad or your Kindle? We'll see both the digital and the traditional facility I think.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:07 AM   #6
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It will be interesting to watch what happens to the libraries. Our local library has a variety of services that cater to those that can not otherwise afford the services, (computers, internet wifi.etc.).
My children gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I am one that loves books and loves going to the library. However, I do wonder what all the hoopla is about regarding these ebooks. I downloaded my first book and it is $9.99. At these rates, I doubt I will be downloading often...when I can get it from my local library for free. The Kindle Fire is positioned to compete with Apples IPad.
I may use the Kindle when I travel but that will probably be about it.
My prediction is this. When ebooks first came out they were relative inexpensive. Not so today. I see a strong market for the libraries to increase their selection of "free ebooks" and streamline their use. And not just ebooks. It would probably include music and movies too. If they do this, they could put the ebook sellers out of business, provided one can download into their ereader from any source.

That said, I still prefer a real book.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:15 AM   #7
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A well cared hardcover book should last a long time, if not decades. OTOH, the usable service life span of typical e-book readers most likely will be much shorter. This even does not include their total environmental impact, from birth to demise.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:46 AM   #8
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I have both a Kindle and an iPad. I read books from both. When it became possible to download library books to both, I started using the local Front Range Downloadable Library. This was a co-op library shared by a number of smaller towns north of Denver. The ebook selection was somewhat limited and the books could be borrowed for 14 days. My wife and I signed up at the much larger Denver Public Library which seems to have twice as many books available. They can be borrowed for up to 21 days. You can take out quite an few books at a time, though I can't remember how many. Since I have been using the downloadable function on my tablets for library books, I have probably been saving $30 - $40 a month on Amazon charges for Kindle. :cool smiley:

On another note, a friend of mine in Wisconsin lives in a community that just built a new library. Since then, they have added $800 per year to his property taxes :face palm:

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Old 12-27-2011, 11:58 AM   #9
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The growing limitations on library licensing for eBooks may end up being the downfall of public libraries if physical books continue to decline. That would be a shame.
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:06 PM   #10
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On another note, a friend of mine in Wisconsin lives in a community that just built a new library. Since then, they have added $800 per year to his property taxes :face palm:

Milkman
As much as I like having a library, I would fight any library construction that would cost taxpayers $800/yr, that's not justifiable IMO...
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:38 PM   #11
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There is an advantage of e-books over their paper copies counterpart, sanitary aspect. One time, I walked into restroom in Portland public library. Then there was the sound of toilet flushing, toilet stall door opened, and I saw a guy came out with a couple of library books in his hands. That's disgusting, and I was totally turned off by it.
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:40 PM   #12
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Good question. I have signed up at my local library for the regional library system and can now download ebooks and audiobooks on my laptop or iPad from anywhere with wifi. (Thus far, Kindle does not allow library downloads in Canada). If I select a title with a waiting list, I get an email when it becomes available and it appears in Adobe Digital editions on my computer (Apple does not allow Adobe to be downloaded on the iPad so we'll see how this process works with iBooks!) Sounds complicated, but it's FREE. As for visiting the library, there are excellent activities for kids and families, and internet access as well as real books. Accessibility is the name of the game. Of course in recent years, bookstores have been doing a lot of this, with author readings, but not everyone can afford to buy the signed copy! I think bricks and mortar libraries have already changed in response to available technology, but I anticipate that at least some will survive to support the community benefits of reading. At least I hope so!
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:45 PM   #13
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Good question. I have signed up at my local library for the regional library system and can now download ebooks and audiobooks on my laptop or iPad from anywhere with wifi. (Thus far, Kindle does not allow library downloads in Canada). If I select a title with a waiting list, I get an email when it becomes available and it appears in Adobe Digital editions on my computer (Apple does not allow Adobe to be downloaded on the iPad so we'll see how this process works with iBooks!)
Look for ePubs. They work fine in iBooks. PDF sucks as a book format.
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Old 12-27-2011, 12:51 PM   #14
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Look for ePubs. They work fine in iBooks. PDF sucks as a book format.
Thanks! The library website has a whole guide to eReaders and the platform is Overdrive. Lots of info here:

OverDrive – Device Resource Center
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:00 PM   #15
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Thanks! The library website has a whole guide to eReaders and the platform is Overdrive. Lots of info here:

OverDrive – Device Resource Center
You will probably have to download your ePubs to Adobe Digital Editions on the PC and then...uh, oh. Now I don't know what will happen. Digital Editions is designed to work with the library's DRM - you won'tl just be able to copy them over to iBooks and read them. I take off the DRM so I can take my time reading my library books on any reader (including iBooks) but that is probably illegal (although I consider it simple time shifting) and is not something I would recommend most people messing with.

Wait, Googled it and it sounds like there is an app that will handle the DRM on the iPad -- Bluefire: Reading Library eBooks on your iPad, Android, eReader and iPhone.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:21 PM   #16
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As much as I like having a library, I would fight any library construction that would cost taxpayers $800/yr, that's not justifiable IMO...
In my small town, a group of people are raising money to build a library. After seeing how people view this topic (Stupid to Plan a Library?), I decided there was no point in even bringing up the idea that perhaps it will be a waste of money.

I also love libraries, and go about once a week. But...

Of course libraries will disappear soon.

Think of it this way:

If every single person on the planet preferred to read a book on an eReader rather than on paper, would there be any libraries? No.

So then the only question is how long will it take before people prefer eReaders? Look at the acceleration of sales of eReaders. Also, look at how much better the latest ereaders are.

The coming obsolescence of the library is as obvious as the coming obsolescence of the film camera was 12 years ago, but as it was back then, many people refuse to see it.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:27 PM   #17
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...
If every single person on the planet preferred to read a book on an eReader rather than on paper, would there be any libraries? No.....
So if every single person on the planet could download best sellers from the library instead of from an ebook store (Amazon, the publisher, the author)....
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:46 PM   #18
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I think we should keep the libraries and make politicians and useless government workers obsolete. They cost us a whole lot more than $75 per year per capita.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:01 PM   #19
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Good question. I have signed up at my local library for the regional library system and can now download ebooks and audiobooks on my laptop or iPad from anywhere with wifi. (Thus far, Kindle does not allow library downloads in Canada). If I select a title with a waiting list, I get an email when it becomes available and it appears in Adobe Digital editions on my computer (Apple does not allow Adobe to be downloaded on the iPad so we'll see how this process works with iBooks!) Sounds complicated, but it's FREE. As for visiting the library, there are excellent activities for kids and families, and internet access as well as real books. Accessibility is the name of the game. Of course in recent years, bookstores have been doing a lot of this, with author readings, but not everyone can afford to buy the signed copy! I think bricks and mortar libraries have already changed in response to available technology, but I anticipate that at least some will survive to support the community benefits of reading. At least I hope so!
There is a free Nook app that can be downloaded to iPads that reads the epub format books. Nook has thousands of free books available for download. The free app can be found here NOOK for iPad from Barnes & Noble-Read 2 Million Books, Free Books, Magazines & Newspapers for iPad on the iTunes App Store
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:59 PM   #20
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Thanks! The library website has a whole guide to eReaders and the platform is Overdrive. Lots of info here:

OverDrive – Device Resource Center
My library has overdrive and it is so simple to use . I click for the Kindle version and it is downloaded directly to my Kindle Fire in moments . It's so easy I now have my 95 year old Mom using it .
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