Are Librarians Totally Obsolete?

Published on Tuesday January 30th , 2007
33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important
by: Will Sherman

http://www.degreetutor.com/library/adult-continued-education/librarians-needed

Many predict that the digital age will wipe public bookshelves clean,
and permanently end the centuries-old era of libraries. Technology’s
baffling prowess and progress even has one librarian predicting the
institution’s demise.
He could be right.
But if he is, then the loss will be irreplaceable. As libraries’
relevance comes into question, they face an existential crisis at a
time they are perhaps needed the most. Despite their perceived
obsoleteness in the digital age both libraries – and librarians – are
irreplaceable for many reasons. 33, in fact. We’ve listed them here:

1. Not everything is available on the internet
The amazing amount of useful information on the web has, for some,
engendered the false assumption everything can be found online. It’s
simply not true.
Google Book Search recognizes this. That’s why they’re taking on the
monolith task of digitizing millions of books from the World’s largest
libraries. But even if Google does successfully digitize the sum of
human knowledge, it is unlikely that the sum of contemporary authors
and publishers will not allow their works to be freely accessible over
the internet. It is already prohibited by law to make copyrighted
books fully accessible through Google Book Search; only snippets. And
it’ll be a long time before that must-read New York Times bestseller
gets put up for free on the internet: current copyright law protects
works for 70 years beyond the death of the author.
Even some public domain works are off limits. If an out-of-copyright
copy includes prefaces, introductions, or appendices that are still in
copyright, the whole work falls under copyrighted status.

2. Digital libraries are not the internet
A fundamental understanding of what the internet is – and what it
isn’t – can help more clearly define what a library is, and why
libraries are still extremely important.
The Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks
clearly spells out the difference between “Online Collections” and the
“Internet or Web Sources”. The internet, this site explains, is a mass
of largely unpublished materials produced by organizations,
businesses, individuals, experimental projects, entrepreneurial
webmasters, etc.
“Online Collections”, however, are different. They are typically
provided by libraries and include materials that have been published
via rigorous editorial processes. Works selected for inclusion in a
library catalogue undergo vetting from qualified staff. Types of
materials include books, journals, documents, newspapers, magazines
and reports which are digitized, stored and indexed through a
limited-access database.
While one might use the internet or a search engine to find these
databases, deeper access to them requires registration. You are still
online, but you are no longer on the internet. You are in a library.

3. The internet isn’t free
While Project Gutenberg boasts 20,000 free, downloadable eBooks on its
homepage, we are promptly reminded that these books are only
accessible because they are no longer in copyright.
And books are just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous academic research
papers, journals and other important materials are virtually
inaccessible to someone seeking to pull them off the web for free.
Rather, access is restricted to expensive subscription accounts, which
are typically paid for by libraries. Visiting the library in person,
or logging in to the library through your member account, is therefore
the only way to affordably access necessary archived resources.

4. The internet complements libraries, but it doesn’t replace them
To guide people in finding information, the Long Island University
provides a helpful explanation of what types of resources can be
accessed through the library. These include news, journals, books and
other resources.
Interestingly, the World Wide web is among these resources as yet
another approach to finding information. But it’s not a replacement.
The page goes on to differentiate and explain the advantages of
libraries over the internet for research. It does cite the benefits of
the internet, including “sampling public opinion”, gathering “quick
facts” and “a wide range of ideas”. Overall, the point is well made:
libraries are completely different institutions from the web. In this
light, to talk about one replacing the other begins to seem absurd.

5. School Libraries and Librarians Improve Student Test Scores
A 2005 study of the Illinois School Libraries shows that students who
frequently visit well-stocked and well-staffed school libraries end up
with higher ACT scores and perform better on reading and writing exams.
Interestingly, the study points out that access digital technology
plays a strong role in test results, noting that “high schools with
computers that connect to library catalogs and databases average 6.2%
improvement on ACT scores”.
View the press release here.

6. Digitization Doesn’t Mean Destruction
The eagerness with which libraries have jumped into partnership with
Google Book Search is not the work of a lemming mentality. Libraries
including Oxford University, University of Michigan, Harvard, the
Complutense University in Madrid, the New York Public Library, the
University of Texas, the University of California and many others have
teamed up with the Google’s project, not eschewed it.
In return for opening up their stacks, these libraries will have all
their books electronically available for their own members. While it
can be expected that fully out-of-copyright books will, on many
occasions, be made fully accessible to the public, copyrighted
materials – including subscription journals – will still be kept under
restricted access.
The reason for this is in part because Google Book Search’s indemnity
clauses don’t reach that far; Google Book Search won’t shield
libraries from any liability that they might incur for overstepping
the bounds of copyright. And there’s a real cause for caution – Google
Book Search is currently facing two major lawsuits from authors and
publishers.

7. In fact, digitization means survival
Daniel Greenstein of the University of California cites a very
practical reason for digitizing books: in electronic form, books
aren’t vulnerable to natural disasters or pulverization that comes
with age. He even cites the libraries destroyed by Hurricane Katrina
as an important reminder of the vulnerability of “cultural memory”.

8. Digitization is going to take a while. A long while.
While book search has developed the air of an unstoppable movement
rapidly breaking down library walls and exposing untouched treasure
troves, it is breathtakingly far from reaching its goal. With an
estimated 100 million books in print since the invention of movable
type , the process has hardly made headway. Digitizing is expensive
and complicated, and so far Google’s million books digitized is just a
drop in the bucket. “The majority of Information”, said Jens Redmer,
Google Book Search’s European director, “lies outside the internet”.
But how long will it take to index the world’s knowledge? In 2002,
Larry Page boasted that Google could digitize approximately seven
million books in six years. Since 2004 Google Book Search has been
plugging along through a series of fits and starts. By 2007, they have
managed to index a million books. So, at the rate of approximately
half a million books per year, digitizing 100 million books would take
about…200 years. Assuming Google could shake off the legal and
logistical challenges and crank out 7 million books every 6 years, the
earliest possible completion date would still be 2092.
In the meantime, a larger user base will rely on local libraries, or
online collections of what have been digitized. Dumping physical
libraries before digitization is complete would leave library patrons
in the lurch.

9. Libraries aren’t just books
Technology is integrating itself into the library system, not
bulldozing it. Pushing this trend to its logical extreme (although
it’s likely not to happen), we could eventually see libraries’ entire
stacks relegated to databases, and have books only accessible
digitally. So where does that leave librarians? Are they being
overtaken by technology, the timeless enemy of labor?
Technology is integrating itself into the library system, not
bulldozing it. Pushing this trend to its logical extreme (although
it’s likely not go this far), we could eventually see libraries’
entire stacks relegated to databases, and only be able to access books
digitally.
So where does that leave librarians? Are they being overtaken by
technology, the timeless enemy of labor?
Not this time. In fact, technology is revealing that the real work of
librarians is not just placing books on bookshelves. Rather, their
work involves guiding and educating visitors on how to find
information, regardless of whether it is in book or digital form.
Technology provides better access to information, but it is a more
complex tool, often requiring specialized know-how. This is a
librarian’s specialty, as they dedicate themselves to learning the
most advanced techniques to help visitors access information
effectively. It’s in their job description.

10. Mobile devices aren’t the end of books, or libraries
Predictions of the End of the Book are a predictable response to
digitization and other technologies, and the crystal ball of some in
the pro-paper crowd seems to also reveal a concomitant crumbling of
civilization.
One of the latest dark threats to paper (and society) seems to be
Google’s plan to make e-books downloadable to mobile devices. The iPod
version of the novel is here. Google has already scanned a million
books. Japanese train commuters are reading entire bestsellers on
their cell phones. The end is near.
But if the mobile e-book is a hit and a lasting phenomenon, it’s
unlikely that they will be an all-consuming transition for readers.
Radio lives on despite TV, film is still in high demand despite video,
people still talk on the telephone despite email. People who like
paper books will continue to read paper books…even if mobile downloads
prompt the majority of publishers to release e-books instead of paper.
After all, an immense backlog of printed books will still be
accessible to readers.
Where do libraries fit in supposing that mobile e-books actually do
completely overtake printed books, the presence of the digital library
will continue to be extremely important, whether it’s paper or
electronically based.

11. The hype might really just be hype
Paper books aren’t exactly doomed, even years after the invention of
the e-book. In fact, by contrasting the merits of the e-book to those
of the paper book, one could argue that paper books are actually a
better product.
It would be premature to write off libraries and their freely
accessible books amidst predictions of e-books’ impending prominence.
Society could lose valuable access to a trusted medium – even if
e-books do take off.

12. Library attendance isn’t falling – it’s just more virtual now
With approximately 50,000 visitors a year, attendance at the American
History Archives at Wisconsin Historical Society has dropped 40% since
1987. This statistic, when set alone, may prove sufficient for anybody
casually predicting the Collapse of the Library. But it is only half
the story. The archives have also been digitized and placed online.
Every year the library receives 85,000 unique online visitors. The
number of online schools offering online degrees is constantly on the
rise as well. Many of these schools are improving their virtual
libraries by the day.

13. Like businesses, digital libraries still need human staffing
Even online businesses rely on quality support for better sales and
customer satisfaction. The availability of email, phone and live chat
services improve the experience of people seeking goods and services.
The same goes for people seeking information.
In return for paying taxes or library fees packaged with University
tuition, library members should expect reliable “customer support” in
exchange for their dues.
Librarians are indeed very important in servicing their visitors. And
still today there is no equivalent replacement to the library, which
provides access to mountains of content that is not available through
search engines or even Google Books Search, which only provides
snippets and links to retailers where books can be bought.

14. We just can’t count on physical libraries disappearing
Physical libraries won’t ever go away. Even as Google Book Search
picks up the pace and libraries finance their own digitization
projects, the future of physical library space continues to be necessary.
This is because many libraries aren’t digitizing yet and many may
never digitize. There’s a good reason: it’s expensive. At a low
estimate of $10 per book (and probably much more for older, more
delicate works), digitizing an entire library of, say, more than
10,000 books – well, it adds up. And for many library users, they
still depend on this traditional, effective approach to pinpointing
information with onsite computers or librarians available to assist them.

15. Google Book Search “don’t work”
If a Google-style indexing of all the world’s books were to mirror the
company’s well-known search service, one might have that much more
fodder for the argument against keeping libraries around. After all,
Google has great technology for searching the web, right? Couldn’t we
just bypass libraries?
But experts point out that Google Book Search is far off from such
user-friendliness as experienced with the company’s internet search
service. The lofty ideals of information-for-everybody are hindered
not only by copyright lawsuits, but by the Google’s own desire to be
top dog. They’re not about to hand over their index to other
competitors, like Microsoft, Yahoo!, Amazon and other non-partnered
digitizing projects. The user loses out by not being able to access
everything through his or her preferred book search service.
By not giving up digital archives to their competitors, companies that
take this competitive, corporate approach to digitization risk veering
off the map, away from the philosophy of the public library. In the
meantime, libraries should remain in tact and available to the general
public.

16. Physical libraries can adapt to cultural change
The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
(NCLIS) is just one among countless groups that study and debate the
evolving role of the physical library in the digital age. In a 2006
symposium the NCLIS created a report that calls for a refining of what
physical library space is. Less like “warehouses”, was one of the
conclusions, and more like “intellectual crossroads for working,
learning, teaching, and new types of programs.”

17. Physical libraries are adapting to cultural change
Anyone subscribing to the theories of 20th century thinker Marshal
McLuhan might say that along with changed life patterns brought on by
electronic technology, knowledge that was once encased in books and
compartmentalized by subject area is now being liberally disseminated
in an explosion of democracy, rendering obsolete the austerity of the
lonely, echoing corridors of the Library. Interestingly McLuhan, who
died in 1980, once even said: “the future of the book is the blurb”.
Indeed, this cultural change predates widespread use of the internet,
as well as Google Book Search. For decades society has been seeking a
more holistic understanding of the world, and increased access to
information. The search for new methods of organizing educational
structures (including libraries) has long been active. And while
libraries might not be on many peoples’ “Top Ten Cutting Edge List”,
they have been adapting.
Washington State University director of libraries Virginia Steel, for
example, is a proponent of maximizing the social and interactive
nature of physical library space. Group study, art exhibits, food and
coffee – talking, not whispering; this is the new library. It’s not
obsolete, it’s just changing.

18. Eliminating libraries would cut short an important process of
cultural evolution
The library that we are most familiar with today – a public or
academic institution that lends out books for free – is a product of
the democratization of knowledge. In the old days, books weren’t
always so affordable, and private libraries, or book clubs, were a
privilege of the rich. This started changing during the 1800’s, with
more public libraries popping up and the invention of the Dewey
Decimal Classification system to standardize the catalogues and indexes.
Libraries began blossoming under the watch of President Franklin
Roosevelt, in part as a tool to differentiate the United States from
book-burning Nazis. This increased interest in building a more
perfect, liberal society culminated in 1956 with the Library Services
Act, which introduced federal funding for the first time. Today there
are tens of thousands public libraries in the United States. (More
info on the history of libraries here).

19. The internet isn’t DIY
It could be said that the internet has endowed society with a giddy
sense of independence. Access to all the world’s information – and
free search engines to browse it with – calls into question the need
for a librarians, moderators or other such middlemen; the web, it
might seem, is a do-it-yourself medium.
But a quick look at the driving forces of today’s internet shows us
something different. The internet is intensely social and interactive,
and has created communities of users that are often remarkably as
tight-knit as they are large. The internet is serving as a tool for
humans to fulfill their natural community building instincts –
sharing, interacting and doing business.
The online economy is driven in large part by the web 2.0 philosophy
of human interaction, peer review and the democratization of knowledge
and analysis. Search engines rank web pages based on their popularity,
social networking platforms pull in millions of visitors daily and the
internet’s most popular encyclopedia is written by the same people who
read it.
Like Wikipedia, the most popular online meeting grounds are often the
best moderated. Since riff-raff and spammers are an inevitable part of
any society (whether physical or virtual), quality control helps
contribute to the best online experiences. Good citizenship among
online communities (intelligently contributing to the discussion, not
spamming) is a surefire way to bolster your reputation as a helpful
member of the group. In order to be fostered, this type of environment
must be moderated.
Interestingly, the role of the moderator very much parallels the role
of the librarian: to safeguard an environment in which knowledge can
be accessed and ideas can be shared.
The notion that libraries are a thing of the past and that humankind
has sprouted wings and flown into a new era of self-guided Truth is
nothing short of farcical. Unfortunately, it’s this same notion that
could lead to the dismemberment of libraries as stuffy and
out-of-date. In reality, the quality of the web depends on guidance
from the academic, library model. While moderators do have brush to
clear in the new and savage cyber-scape, librarians have trail blazed
significant parts of the journey.

20. Wisdom of crowds is untrustworthy, because of the tipping point
The high visibility of certain viewpoints, analysis and even facts
found online through social networking sites and wikis is engineered –
ideally – to be the result of objective group consensus. Google’s
algorithm also hinges on this collective principle: rather than an
in-house “expert” arbitrarily deciding what resource is the most
authoritative, let the web decide. Sites with higher link popularity
tend to rank higher in the search engines. The algorithm is based on
the principle that group consensus reveals a better, more accurate
analysis of reality than a single expert ever could. Writer James
Surowiecki calls this phenomenon “the wisdom of crowds.”
In a vacuum, crowds probably are very wise. But all too often we see
the caveat to James Surowiecki’s crowd wisdom in Malcom Gladwell’s
“tipping point”, which, in this context, explains that groups are
easily influenced by their vanguard – those who are the first to do
something and who automatically have extra influence, even if what
they are doing is not necessarily the best idea.
The highly social nature of the web therefore makes it highly
susceptible to, for example, sensationalized, low-quality information
with the sole merit of being popular. Libraries, in contrast, provide
quality control in the form of a stopgap. Only information that is
carefully vetted is allowed in. Libraries are likely to stay separate
from the internet, even if they can be found online. Therefore, it is
extremely important that libraries remain alive and well, as a
counterpoint to the fragile populism of the web.

21. Librarians are the irreplaceable counterparts to web moderators
Individuals who voluntarily devote their time to moderating online
forums and wikis are playing a similar role to librarians who oversee
the stacks – and those who visit the stacks.
The chief difference between librarians and moderators is that while
the former guides users through a collection of highly authoritative,
published works, the moderator is responsible for taking the helm as
consensus is created. While the roles are distinct, each is evolving
along with the fast paced growth of the internet and the evolving
nature of libraries. Both moderators and librarians will have a lot to
learn from each other, so it is important that they both stick around.

22. Unlike moderators, librarians must straddle the line between
libraries and the internet
Admittedly, libraries are no longer both the beginning and ending
point of all scholarly research. The internet is effectively pulling
students away from the stacks and revealing a wealth of information,
especially to one who is equipped with the tools to find it. Indeed,
the dream of cutting out the middleman is possible to attain. But at
what price?
Media literacy, although an extremely important asset for scholars and
researchers, is far from universal. Who is going to teach media
literacy? Many argue that librarians are the best fit to educate
people about the web.
After all, web moderators are concerned primarily with the environment
which they oversee and less so with teaching web skills to strangers.
Teachers and professors are busy with their subjects and
specializations. Librarians, therefore, must be the ones who cross
over into the internet to make information more easily accessible.
Instead of eliminating the need for librarians, technology is
reinforcing their validity.

23. The internet is a mess
As one pro-librarian website puts it, “The internet in very few ways
resembles a library. A library provides a clear, standardized set of
easily retrievable resources”.
Despite the slightly combative nature of this one-liner, its premise
is essentially correct. Despite improvements in search technology and
the creation of amazingly comprehensive sites like Wikipedia, the
internet is still, in many ways, a free-for-all. Flooded with sites
from all sorts of sources that inexplicably languish about or jockey
for top positions in the rankings, the web is like an overpopulated
Wild West. Many have taken confronted this chaos with grass-roots
social networking sites or large, complex and highly successful
efforts to organized information (Google, Wikipedia, et al). But
despite these efforts, a morass of questionable pages still tends to
be served up in many search results, and the credibility of each
source accessed must inherently come into question.
Not that that’s a bad thing. The oceans of information, uncertainty
and spontaneity on the web can provide an exciting, enriching
experience. But if you need to limit your search to logically indexed
resources that have been published and then vetted by a professional
staff, then the library is still your best bet.

24. The internet is subject to manipulation
As long as the bright minds behind Google are coming up with a better
search algorithm, the bright minds of search engine optimizers will
continue to crack it. This could involve conforming to Google’s
quality standards or, in many cases, skirting around them. It is
important for the user to keep in mind the limitations of Google. In
many cases the search giant succeeds in serving up good information.
But in many cases it still falls short.
In contrast, it is extremely hard to enter into libraries’ indexes.
Books, journals and other resources must be nothing less than high
caliber, published material. If they’re not, they simply don’t get in.
Furthermore, the economic incentive to manipulate library collections
is much less fierce than on the internet. It is estimated that only 4%
of book titles are being monetized.
Meanwhile, Google alone is experiencing incredible earnings through
online advertising, not to mention everyone else positioning for a
piece of the Internet pie.
But libraries simply aren’t facing this kind of pressure. Their way of
providing information, therefore, will inherently be less influenced
by corporate interests.

25. Libraries’ collections employ a well-formulated system of citation
Books and journals found in libraries will have been published under
rigorous guidelines of citation and accuracy and are thereby allowed
into libraries’ collections.
These standards are simply not imposed on websites. They can show up
in search results whether or not they provide citation. With enough
research, the accuracy of web resources often can be determined. But
it’s very time consuming. Libraries make research much more efficient.

26. It can be hard to isolate concise information on the internet
Certain subject areas like medical conditions or financial advice are
very well mapped on the web. Quality sites for more marginal subject
areas, however, are less easy to find through web search. One would
have to know which site to go to, and Google isn’t necessarily going
to serve you exactly what you are looking for.
Wikipedia, which ranks well for a wide variety of specialized subject
areas, is improving web concision. But Wikepedia is just one site,
that anyone can edit, and its veracity is not guaranteed. Libraries
retain a much more comprehensive and concisely indexed collection off
research materials.

27. Libraries can preserve the book experience
Consuming 900 pages on the intellectual history of Russia is an
experience unique to the book. In general, the book provides a
focused, yet comprehensive study that summarizes years of research by
an author – or team of authors – who have devoted their academic to a
particular subject area.
Through Google Book Search, the internet can be a tool to find where
to buy a book. Normal search results also reveal a variety of book
resellers, academic courses or upcoming web projects.
But even when the internet does provide actual content (as in a search
for the history of Russia) the information is often snack-sized or the
overall experience cursory – a sort of quick-reference browsing.
Knowledge can be found, but the experience of delving into a book for
hundreds of pages just doesn’t happen online. The preservation of
stacks, therefore, will help preserve access to this approach to
learning and the more traditional form of scholarship can continue
alongside the new.

28. Libraries are stable while the web is transient
In an effort to improve their service and shake out the spammers,
search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. Often,
however, collateral damage will knock out innocent sites including,
perhaps, authoritative resources.
In addition, websites commonly go offline or their addresses change.
Other sites that point to these resources (which were once good) could
easily and unwittingly house a number of “broken links”. These sites
can remain unedited for years.
Libraries, on the other hand, have a well-accounted-for stock of
available resources and a standard indexing system that will deliver
stable, reliable results consistently.

29. Libraries can be surprisingly helpful for news collections and
archives
In many ways, libraries fall short of the internet when it comes to
aggregating news content. Online TV, radio and newspaper sources – not
to mention an abundance of blogs referencing and commenting on daily
events around the world – can often satiate anyone from the casual
headline browser to the news junkie.
Meanwhile, libraries continue to subscribe and stock a certain list of
newspapers, and archive the back issues. This effort may seem humble
alongside the lengthy lists of online news aggregators and
instantaneous access to articles published within the minute.
Nevertheless, a library’s news cataloguing can provide a number of
advantages. For starters, many publications continue to exist offline.
For someone seeking a specific article by a specific journalist, a
library could yield better results – even if the publication had to be
tracked down through inter-library loan.
Libraries often provide freely accessible issues of major periodicals
that would otherwise require online subscription, like many sections
of the New York Times
In addition, archives often disappear offline, or become increasingly
expensive online. (Try Google’s news archive search). This can leave
libraries with the only accessible copies.

30. Not everyone has access to the internet
In less developed nations or even poorer parts of the United States,
library access is often the only clear-cut way for an individual to
conduct serious research. There are at least two major reasons that
the internet may not provide even an illusory alternative to libraries.
Firstly, online access may be much more difficult to attain than
library access. A public library may have but one computer console,
while other internet access points may charge someone who simply
doesn’t have the means to pay.
Secondly, even if internet access is obtained, the lack of
technological education in poorer areas of the world will render the
technology much less useful than it would be for the person who has
more experience navigating the web.

31. Not everyone can afford books
Outside of developed nations, books are more rare and often more
expensive than their first-world counterparts. Compounding the problem
is an incredibly low minimum wage making the real cost of books
astronomical. The public library, wherever it exists, therefore
becomes much more crucial to democratizing information.
Since the United States tends to be a trend leader, especially
technologically, it must underscore the importance of libraries even
as technology moves forward. Touting a culture of BlackBerry devices
over books may jeopardize the existence of traditional libraries,
leaving poor people without books or BlackBerrys.

32. Libraries are a stopgap to anti-intellectualism
It’s not that the internet is anti-intellectual; its academic roots
and the immense quantity of scholarly sites certainly attest to it
being a smart medium.
It’s not that the internet is anti-intellectual; its academic roots
http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/far/ch7.html and the immense
quantity of scholarly sites certainly attest to it being a smart medium.
But for some, the alluring immediacy of the internet can lead to the
false impression that only immediate, interactive and on-the-spot
online discussion is of value. Dusty books on tall shelves then seem
to represent stagnant knowledge, and their curators (librarians),
behind the times. Books and reading easily gets regarded as elitist
and inactive, while blogging becomes the here-and-now.
But, as mentioned earlier, not everything is on the internet. Access
to books and theories from hundreds of years of cultural history is
essential to progress. Without this, technology could become the
ironic tool of the sensational and retrograde cultural tendencies.
Preserving libraries to store knowledge and teach the limitations of
technology can help prevent the hubris and narcissism of technological
novelty.

33. Old books are valuable
The idea of a library becoming a “book museum” in the age of
digitization is sometimes tossed about as an apocalyptic figure of
speech. It’s a real scare for librarians. The term insinuates that,
rather than become contemporary and useful, libraries could turn into
historical fetishes like vinyl records or typewriters. And instead of
continuing on as research professionals, librarians would be forced to
become like museum curators – or, more likely, they would just lose
their jobs.
But if the evolution of libraries grows to become an interactive
meeting place for cultural events and the exchange of ideas, the
preservation and exhibition of archival literary relics could be yet
another facet to their importance (and, yes, intrigue). Indeed, old
books are not only monetarily valuable, but they are part of cultural,
historical memory that mustn’t be lost to digitization.

Conclusion
Society is not ready to abandon the library, and it probably won’t
ever be. Libraries can adapt to social and technological changes, but
they can’t be replaced. While libraries are distinct from the
internet, librarians are the most suited professionals to guide
scholars and citizens toward a better understanding of how to find
valuable information online. Indeed, a lot of information is online.
But a lot is still on paper. Instead of regarding libraries as
obsolete, state and federal governments should increase funding for
improved staffing and technology. Rather than lope blindly through the
digital age, guided only by the corporate interests of web economics,
society should foster a culture of guides and guideposts. Today, more
than ever, libraries and librarians are extremely important for the
preservation and improvement of our culture.

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