Sunday, October 3, 2010

Books and Technology

Where will the digital world take us? While sitting here checking email, updating my facebook status and reading tweets, I came across a tweet that asked, "what will libraries look like?" in the future as we move to move forward and e-books become more popular and accessible. I realized that it has been ages since I set foot in a library, this coming from a girl who was practically raised in our small town library. Granted, the last time I went to the library, which wasn't that long ago, was in search of some board books for my classroom, but I'm talking about sitting down amongst thousands of books and spending hours reading.

The thought brought back floods of memories and sensations. I can almost remember the smell of my hometown library. The smell of the books, the carpet under my feet (yeah, I used to take off my shoes when the librarian was not looking :D), the hard seats when the more comfortable chair was already taken, the smooth covers of the books as I shelved books and the goosebumps I'd get when it got a bit too cold. The only sounds heard were the hushed whisperings of patrons, tapping of typewriters and the turning of pages. Being home-schooled allowed me an opportunity to spend hours and hours at the library. On a good day, I spent more than four hours. I even learned how to use library system to help others check out books, input returned books and even shelve returned books. It was such a great experience.

Then comes technology, giving us the e-book. Not sure how embracing I am of the thought of e-books. I love holding books, smelling books and the simple sensation of turning pages. Just how will e-books transform the library culture and way of life? What will they look like? I can only imagine some hallowed room with nothing but glass and colorless, streamlined computer stations where people can hook their ipads, kindles, laptops and other e-readers to charge and download books, information and even automated librarians. The room will have a more sterile smell due to problems dust can create for the library mainframe. There will be no intimacy between person and book or person and library. People will interact with machine instead of other humans.

Who knows what the future has in store for books and the library, but hopefully we still have a long time before the written word becomes obsolete. I'm a die-hard book fan and hopefully enough of us will keep the book and library culture alive. At least for the next 7 generations! :D

1 comment:

Amina Melody Pryor said...

Salaams. I just came across this post and had to say thanks for your reminiscing! One of my favorite childhood libraries was a little house located about 10 blocks from where I lived. I loved walking down the street and stepping into the cozy space filled with the magic of all the books lined up on the shelves in the various rooms, waiting to be explored! This is back in the day when I used encyclopedias instead of the internet to do my homework!

When I was a child, I loved participating in the library's summer reading program. It was a thrill to watch my list fill up with the books I had read. It was just as fun when I was a mom engaged with my own young children enjoying trips to the library for summer reading programs!

Another blessing in my life was participating in a mother-daughter book club from the time my daughter was in 5th grade until she graduated from high school. Now my aspiring novelist is getting ready to graduate with a BA in English and applying to schools for MFA in Fiction Writing.

There's lots to be said for technology, but I hope it is a very long time before books disappear from library shelves! Holding a book in your hand, engaging in its weight, texture and smell - it's like a good visit with a beloved friend.