There is an interesting editorial in the Lawrence Journal-World from a citizen debating the need for a new central library. These points are not new to most of us, but it is time to come up with our judicious counterpoints.
1. Libraries are inefficient. Like me, kids seek fast, convenient access to up-to-date information. That’s available on the Internet. In this new information age, libraries are an obsolete place to store and disseminate information. Rather than speed access to reliable, up-to-date information, libraries provide only remote, slow and inconvenient access to limited and often outdated information.
Go to any library. The stacks are empty; it’s the computers that are busy. Then ask yourself if it makes sense to locate those computers in one central and remote location, like a downtown library, or instead locate the computers where kids, seniors, and everyone else wants to use them.
2. Libraries are limited. Everybody wants access to reliable information. The Internet is a gateway to unlimited data and information about government, business, and the community. Multiple information providers on the Internet make fact checking easy and reliable. No single person, such as a librarian, can or should be relied upon to verify accuracy. Single sources for information verification are inefficient and potentially dangerous. (emphasis added).
3. Libraries are obsolete. Modern information technology involves two-way communication between providers and users of information technology. With instant messaging, blogs, message boards, and email, the Internet fosters information sharing among virtually unlimited numbers of information providers. Computers are communication devices that bring communities together.
The editorial ends with "Before the City of Lawrence commits to wasting millions of dollars on a new downtown library, ask yourself a few questions. When was the last time you were at the library? When was the last time you logged on? Why is that?" I think this is a good question we need to be asking our patrons also.