Libraries and Leafblowers

by Dan Blank on October 21, 2006

A funny thing is happening. While people debate whether the death of print is upon us, the argument itself is becoming irrelevant. Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article that underscores this. It profiles how libraries are changing to become “information commons,” places where there are fewer books, but more services, and greater access to knowledge.

I love libraries. My wife and I are library nerds. And I am excited to see them become the center of thriving activity again. Some purists would argue that cafes, massive internet lounges, and music have no place in a library. That there is something sacred about a book. I disagree.

To walk into a building that is filled with life, filled with people exploring, learning, and becoming comfortable in this space – that to me is the ultimate library experience.

So many books are becoming digitized now that the buildings are no longer warehouses for physical goods.

As I write this, I am listening to someone’s leafblower. Earlier this morning, before 8am, I was listening to someone else’s lawnmower. Similar to a traditionalist view of libraries – people have missed the point. We used to keep manicured lawns so that it promoted pride in the community. Now, my Saturday mornings are overwhelmed with power equipment, as the sense of personal pride has overtaken any sense of community.

The same would be true if we attempted to keep libraries as warehouses for books. Time, to go back to my nice fall Saturday, leafblowers and all.

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