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View Poll Results: What's the life of brick and mortar local libraries?
Less then 15 years (they’ll start disappearing in the next 15 years) 2 9.09%
15 - 30 years 3 13.64%
30 - 60 years 2 9.09%
60 - 150 years 4 18.18%
Greater than 150 years (been there since 300 BC) 11 50.00%
Voters: 22. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-06-2008, 12:08 AM   #1
Barcey
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Estimate on the life of brick and mortar libraries?

I’m interested in what people think the future is for local brick and mortar libraries. This is what you think will happen not what you’d like to happen.

We’re going through a local debate on a main branch upgrade and they’ve published some usage numbers. The main library and four branches serve a population of 213,000 and get an average of 3,400 people visiting them per day. The main branch has 1,000 visitors a day. The library is much more then just books and reference material though. There’s free computer/internet access, audio CD’s, DVD’s and club meetings so I’m not sure how many people are using it as a traditional library.

Options for upgrades are for renovation vs rebuild and are estimated at $26 million to $51 million (of course since it’s a government project it will never go over budget). This is just one time costs and I haven’t been able to find the annual operating costs.

I guess that I’m old fashioned but I still think of the libraries as research centers and book repositories. Promoting literacy and servicing people that can’t afford literature or research material. If those are really the core values I think we’re close to the price point where we could more economically and better serve people by providing them electronic books and diverting the money into central electronic archives. I know the current generation of readers aren’t sturdy enough to hand out to kids but I don’t think we’re far off.

I know this can be a touchy subject but what do you think?
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Old 05-06-2008, 12:15 AM   #2
Taylor514ce
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I voted for "Greater then (sic) 150 years". Communities will always have the need to centralize certain works, in whatever form, and libraries serve that function. Communities will also always have those who cannot access these works in the current form ("you always have the poor with you"), and so providing a Place for that access is concomitant.
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Old 05-06-2008, 12:32 AM   #3
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I voted for "Greater than 150 years" (after correcting the error -- for Taylor514ce's sake, of course), because I think that libraries will change to adapt ... eventually. And even if they don't, the Library of Congress will still be around, I think.
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Old 05-06-2008, 01:49 AM   #4
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I don't think libraries will ever go away, people need them so they have a place to dump their kids off for an afternoon
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Old 05-06-2008, 05:43 AM   #5
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Voted for 60 - 150 years

All sort of reasons. One of them is I don't believe that human kind (current civilisation) is going to live longer than that. As Einstein said:
Quote:
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:47 AM   #6
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Brick and mortar libraries will start disappearing in less than 15 years. Libraries as institutions will perhaps last a little longer.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:50 AM   #7
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The way that libraries are morphing to adjust totheir environment shows that they remain a vital source of information. They used to have card files, now they are all online. Heck, they used to have scrolls and now lend out e-books in some places. The function of libraries is greater than the repository of paper books.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
Brick and mortar libraries will start disappearing in less than 15 years. Libraries as institutions will perhaps last a little longer.
I'm interested in your reasoning. Please explain why you feel this way, I'm curious.

Last edited by Taylor514ce; 05-06-2008 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:56 AM   #9
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Libraries will get one through times of no money better than money will get one through times of no libraries.

- Anne Herbert - Writer, editor of Co-Evolutionary Quarterly

William
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:00 AM   #10
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Remember that the major libraries of the world - the British Library, the Bodlean Library in Oxford, the Library of Congress, etc - are not there to "borrow" books from; they are national archives of a country's literary treasures. You can go to the British Library and look at an original copy of Shakespeare's "First Folio", for example.

That type of archive will always be required; such places are invaluable research resources. Electronic archives certainly have a place in allowing you to find what's available in such a place, but there'll never be a substitute for being able to study original documents.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:17 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylor514ce View Post
I'm interested in you reasoning. Please explain why you feel this way, I'm curious.
I'm extrapolating from my experiences. I used to frequent libraries and bring home big stacks of books to read over the next month. Now I find that locating the books and fetching them online is just so much easier. Of course, at the moment online repositories are not very complete, so I still have to go to a library once in a while, but that will change with time.

Then there's the economic side of things. If you consider a library to be an institution that facilitates access to books (and other media) for the community, this can be done in a ore efficient and cost-effective manner online. The only way I see the traditional neighborhood library surviving is if it morphs into a community center, that just happens to have a few cupboards of books.

As Harry pointed out, there will still be the great national archives of original sources and rare publications, but, IMO, the neighborhood library, as a library, is doomed.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:19 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylor514ce View Post
I'm interested in you reasoning. Please explain why you feel this way, I'm curious.
You haven't figured that out? Because in a few years the software formerly known as libprs500 will achieve consciousness and seek out what it perceives are its greatest threats. And of course finding Sarah Connor.

Think about that next time you convert an eBook.

-MJ
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
I'm extrapolating from my experiences.
Thanks for expanding your thoughts, I understand. I would counter that your experiences may not be representative of the population as a whole.
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:32 AM   #14
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Are you saying other people will not find it easier to find books online?
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Old 05-06-2008, 10:37 AM   #15
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I used to have to walk to the university library in order to find articles. Now I get them electronically, via Jstor etc.
Many of the books are available online too.
So library usage is already changing.
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