Will libraries as we know them one day disappear?

April 25, 2014
Reading Room, New York Public Library

Reading Room, New York Public Library

I like to think that I’m okay with change. But when I see beautiful libraries full of books, I can’t even imagine the idea that they might one day disappear.  I can’t even fathom an acceptable modern replacement for libraries, books and reading. I don’t want to.

I do, however, take comfort in this: many old libraries are preserved, still. Some remain primarily as the domain of historians or academics.  But, there are still beautiful old libraries in the world. Like this one.

Trinity College, Dublin

Trinity College, Dublin

Someone like me will one day think that modern libraries with workstations and e-reader plug ins are beautiful and evocative by their standards.  Do you think?

Because I can’t imagine it.


23 comments on “Will libraries as we know them one day disappear?
  1. There is nothing better than a library! Whenever I travel this is one of the first places I like to visit. They are usually such beautiful old buildings!

  2. Mary Buchan says:

    I love libraries, bookstores and books. I love to hold a book when I read it, I don’t have a kindle yet…call me old fashioned if you want. I am curious about the world and people and places and times…I can’t get enough. I hope there are books in heaven. I wonder if they have caskets made out of books; then I could be buried in my own library :-). I know I’m being silly but I really, really love books and the libraries that house them.

    • admin says:

      I have a Kindle but I do much prefer a hard copy. These reading rooms are beautiful and would be such a loss.

  3. My goodness these photos took my breath away! How beautiful! I still enjoy the quiet and solitude of a library even though I do have the electronics such as Kindle and iPad. I love the peaceful serenity and smells of a library, especially in old historic buildings. It feels like you are a part of history!

  4. Libraries and book shops…may they never disappear. It is truly one of the tragedies of our time. In San Antonio, we have the first no-book library…all stark white, silver rooms with computers. I HATE IT!! I love just to sit in a library or a book shop…read, observe people, soak in the surroundings. I truly hope they will not disappear…may it never be!

  5. Ken says:

    Two libraries I have lived with and loved have gone modern by closing their impressive entrance halls and creating new entrances around the corner that have some of the charm of a 7-11–U. C. Berkeley and Berkeley Public Library, main branch. But when I go in the still-among-the-living main entrance of the Oakland Public Library, I feel as though the air suddenly has more oxygen, and I’m home again. I can’t fault U.C. and Berkeley for rearranging their spaces, presumably for the sake of improved efficiency–except that “efficiency” may not be the reason for libraries’ existence.

  6. Karen @BakingInATornado says:

    I too love libraries. Although I have to admit that I use my kindle quite a bit now in place of driving to the library to get a book.
    But libraries are so woven into my memories, the place to find information all through my school years, the place to find new books to enjoy weekly as my kids were growing up, and the place to take my kids for weekly readings when they were little. It’s sad to think they may have outlived much of their day to day usefulness.

  7. Beverly Hine says:

    It’s sad but true that to stay viable, libraries have to evolve and change, but I think that there will always be a place for books, as long as there are children who love storytime and go to the library with their parents and on class visits…and as long as teachers require students to do their research using books. We “baby boomers” and a few generations after us still love books and understand the value of them, but it really will be those little kids who learned to love books and going to the library at an early age that will make sure the buildings and their contents survive. I read on my Kindle now, but it’s because I can’t live without reading and I read while I eat and while in bed and the Kindle makes it easier for me to do so.

  8. Your posted images spoke “volumes.” I cannot envision a library or reading hall without hardcover books. The smell. The atmosphere. The echoed fall of shoed feet to wood floors. Even the sound of a clicked-on banker’s lamp is part of my memorized senses.
    For several years, I lived in Washington, D. C.. As a graduate student in art history, the Library of Congress was a spectacular haunt of mine. Imagine. Just imagine. Since leaving D.C. 20+ years ago, I now know that many modifications have been made to this wonderful building and its collections, not the least of which have been security measures.

  9. I agree with you! I love libraries— the smell of the old books, the peace and comfort I find there. But I fear they will become obsolete, just like books stores. Everyone does their reading online these days it seems. It just can’t compare…..

  10. I spent a great deal of time in the library as I was growing up. It was a place of refuge for me. i felt very at home there. I just got down one of my books the other day and, when I opened it, it had the same old book perfume. Such a sense of nostalgia. I wish the smell could be bottled.

    Let’s face it, there is nothing like entering a large ornate cavernous space where people have to be quiet and learn something! It really is the church of the intellect….

  11. Kathy says:

    I love libraries. In Pittsburgh, the main library, the Carnegie Library is attached to the Carnegie Museum. One of the best things was being able to take my granddaughter there during a trip to the museum. There were not only great children’s books we were able to read but also a program from the Pittsburgh Ballet and she was able to meet a ballerina.

    The architecture there is magnificent and I do want to go back and capture it with my camera. To have these treasures closed or replaced would be a tragedy

    • admin says:

      More and more these days, M and I say “glad we aren’t going to be alive to see…” and to this we could add “…the demise of old libraries…”

  12. Doreen McGettigan says:

    Libraries are one of my most favorite places to be, the older the better.
    I am on a board with our Counties Library director. He is scrambling to keep a few of them open.
    The thought of not having them to spend hours in is a tough one to comprehend.

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