The internet has replaced the importance of libraries as a repository for knowledge. And digital distribution has replaced the role of a library as a central hub for obtaining the containers of such knowledge: books. And digital bits have replaced the need to cut down trees to make paper and waste ink to create those books. This is evolution, not devolution.
I feel like parislemon - who’s views on technology trends I usually find spot on - missed a whole segment of the market. The internet is better than the library for people who have access to the internet. However 35% of americans do not have high-speed internet access at home. Libraries are necessary for those who are not as well off.
Now, maybe in the future we’ll get better broadband in this country that competes on price and speed versus other industrialized nations. Access would be available to all. At that point, theoretically, libraries could cease to exist with little problem.
The question becomes: which trend is moving faster? Increased access to high-speed internet or decreased funding for libraries?
If it’s the former, then libraries are a line-item we can cross off the public ledger guilt free. But if it’s the latter and libraries go away while a large swatch of americans live without broadband, then we are going to create a large uninformed underclass in this country. That prospect is dangerous to an informed and well functioning democracy