The Next Endangered Species: Libraries

Grace Carney- Contributing Writer

It’s the second month of the year and 55 years since the acclaimed 1960s children’s television series The Jetsons was originally launched, depicting an idealistic vision of the future mid-21st century, incorporating flying cars buzzing around jovially and boxy metal robotic maids patiently pending for orders.
In the real 21st century, while the production of man-made gadgets and material accessories is currently hitting its peak, what The Jetsons never included was the notion of many things becoming “old fashioned” and suddenly disappearing. More specifically, the sale of print books in both book stores and libraries may soon come to a halt.
Since readily available internet access and Apple, the number one company in the world, encourages billions of people to spend sizable chunks of time each day online staring at screens, books, magazines, newspapers and printed literature are on the road to their downfall.
The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439 in Germany, allowing people to finally be able to print stories more efficiently than ever before. Just shy of six centuries later, people are growing more and more dependent on computerized gadgets to read, write and spend lengthy amounts of time on each day, for both work and leisure. Nooks, iPads, Kindles and other eReaders have recently become a successful and convenient replacement for printed books. Now that we can receive all the information we crave at the touch of a screen, small scale book stores and libraries are suddenly going out of business, decreasing in value and significance.
Staring at an electronic screen for hours on end each day is not only harmful for your brain and eyes, but also for your overall health. We live in a world where convenience and instant gratification are consistently chosen over completing a task in a more challenging and thorough way, which may require more effort and skill.
Sadly, this applies to the simple task of reading texts. Now that we can pull out our devices to find all the information we desire at that moment, whether it be a trashy celebrity gossip magazine or a research article related to the work we’re currently consumed in, it has become all too easy to grow fully dependent on our devices and neglect the possibility of actually getting up and going to a library or bookstore.
While it is easy to lie on the couch and stare at a screen for hours, opening apps, getting side tracked and googling anything that comes to mind, it is detrimental to our physical and mental well being to become such immobile and mindless creatures. The effort it takes to go to a library, hunt down one specific title, check out the book and remember to return it before it’s overdue is not daunting.
Allowing the system of libraries to remain an important feature of our society has many benefits; libraries carry an immensely rich history and are a site of spreading a vast array of knowledge in diverse areas.
More importantly, they have existed for thousands of years, tracing all the way back to Ancient Egypt. They profit the education system and play a prominent role in the lives of children across the nation, from various socioeconomic backgrounds, as a place to learn, explore, grow and find tranquility.
In recent years, some people have become less inclined to help support the survival of public libraries. Fortunately, funding libraries is a political decision rather than an economic one. Libraries provide both print and electronic resources for people who can’t afford them. They provide services for the blind and disabled, a setting for neighborhood meetings and are an alternative place to take kids after school.
Imagine the world in two or three decades, when your kids (if you see them in your future) beg and plead for the latest screen-based gadget, then come home and all they want to do is play with electronics. If there are no more libraries left at this point and bookstores have grown rare and deemed inconvenient compared to the likes of Amazon, how will you feel about your child having learned to read solely on an electronic screen?
Eventually, will you be able to hire a robotic nanny as featured in The Jetsons who reads electronic books to your children? Libraries are not only public institutions that provide us with a wide variety of benefits, such as books themselves, but they are also non-profit communal establishments that are vital to sustain a world that is not fully overridden by technology.

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