Written by Julie Jernigan, Asst. Copy Editor
Libraries in trouble due to low visitor numbers
If libraries don’t adapt then they’ll be scrapped
Libraries across the country are seeing a decline in attendance, and while technologic advancement is partly to blame, insufficient government funding plays a major role.
According to The Atlantic, a new Pew Research Study found that 76 percent of Americans think libraries better their community, but only 44 percent visited their local library in the past year. The study advised that more libraries utilize their non-print services.
Another report conducted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport showed that in the past year the number of adults who visited a library between October 2015 and September 2016 fell from 33.8 to 29.8 percent, and partial declines have happened every year since the survey began in 2005.
Library activists condemned the numbers, saying serious action needs to be taken.
“In an age where there is a great need to arm the population with information and opportunities, these figures warn us that it’s time to stop talking about dismantling of library services and instead to demand action,” said Nick Poole, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals in an interview with The Guardian.
The world, though, is becoming more and more digital, and libraries must adapt to the changing environment. For example, many avid readers are turning to e-books rather than physical books because they are more practical and environmentally friendly.
“I prefer e-books over physical books because I like to have my full library at my disposal whenever I have free time,” Joanna Henderson, a junior psychology major, said. “I also hate waiting on shipping because I’m so eager to start the next book in a series.”
On the other hand, many people still love the satisfaction of holding a bound book.
“I personally like physical books because I highlight and take notes in the margins,” Kenzie Bowen, a communications disorder major, said. “I enjoy the ‘new book’ smell and being able to take it outside on a hot day without having to worry about my device heating up.”
Even if libraries make e-books available, the range of products wouldn’t touch the reality of what Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer.
Books are cheaper than ever right now, and most classic books can be purchased for free on Project Gutenberg or for a small charge on Kindle or Nook, according to The Telegraph.
Libraries are becoming obsolete, and local authorities are only acting on statistics and revenues when looking to close down branches. In order for libraries to remain open, employees and activists must make plans to adapt with technology to gain more visitors; otherwise, they will become a thing of the past.