I Got a Library Card March 3, 2011Posted by Peter Varhol in Uncategorized.
That hardly seems like something to brag about, but it makes a statement on how technology can change behaviors. I last had a public library card about twenty years ago (same city, ironically), but stopped using it entirely once most information I needed became available on the Internet.
(I’m a geography junkie, and every few years also bought my own world atlas, at $75-$100 a pop. I stopped doing that, too, in favor of Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth.)
My city’s library is an active and relevant place. During the school year, it’s a popular teen hangout for doing homework, working on school projects, and just socializing. There are many events for children and a wide variety of adults. I contrast that with my public library growing up, which was usually empty as a tomb, with a homeless guy sleeping at a corner table.
However, it’s not the level of activity, or the need for world atlases, the prompted me to once again get a library card. Rather, it was the availability of downloadable books in the Nook EPUB format, via a statewide lending system.
In short, an old-fashioned concept, the lending library, with copious reference volumes, lost relevance to me over the last 20 years. It has suddenly regained relevance for me, in an unexpected way, thanks to e-reading and the library’s core mission of lending books.
What goes around, comes around. Don’t be fooled into thinking that new technology automatically means that old institutions will crumble.