The invention of the modern day internet, otherwise known as the World Wide Web, by Berners Lee in 1991 led to a technological age in which the use of libraries began to seem pointless and inconvenient. The World Wide Web is a “‘web’ of information that anyone on the internet” has access to; therefore, it has the ability to possess an equivocal amount of information that can be found in a library. Since the initiation of the World Wide Web and the popular search engine Google, libraries began to decrease in popularity with the public. Bill Maher, a popular political comedian, recently stated on his popular television show that “We have the internet; we don’t need a library at all. I don’t know anyone who’s been to a library since 1998.” Is there any truth to his statement? Support for his statement can be found in modern day innovations such as the renowned products by Apple like the Macbook, the iPad, and the iPhone. With this type of advanced technology available it is apparent that the majority of modern day society relies heavily on those internet compatible devices in their daily lives. Technology has advanced to the point where old fashioned books can easily be read on these lightweight gadgets versus going to the library to check one out. With new technology and the internet, people have been given the advantage to choose between working, studying, or doing research in a library or in the comfort of their own home. Have libraries really proven themselves useless for college students in this modern day society or do they still possess importance to the public? I believe that libraries are still essential to any society because they offer many free reliable resources as well as a quiet environment to achieve greater concentration on work.
Andrew Lopez, son of Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez, majored in library science and said in talking about libraries that “The notion that they could be replaced by Google is tantamount to suggesting that Americans are better off with vending machines instead of farmer’s markets… Cut the libraries and you cut everything that goes with them, just as Thomas Jefferson knew well.” In my opinion, libraries are an important part of the society because they contain many free resources available for the public. Although many people today may think that libraries have lost their value of convenience due to the uprising of the internet, followed by technological advances in mobile devices, the accuracy and reliability of the resources found on the internet are very questionable. Anyone who owns a computer and has access to internet connection can publish a website and post information on various topics that may not always be true. The point of research is to search for information on topics that we are not familiar with; therefore, it is difficult to judge whether the subject matter on many websites on the internet are reliable or not. On the other hand, libraries contain more resources than the internet, such as: professional books, newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, journals, electronic resources, along with a plentiful amount of other resources that have been professionally edited and reviewed prior to their publication guaranteeing reliability. While some of these resources found in libraries can be found online, limitations such as being required to subscribe to certain databases to access electronic resources are risked when conducting research on the internet. Furthermore, organization of resources on the internet can be scattered and cause difficulty in finding accurate resources due to the amount of different information that is posted on the web. However, libraries contain a universal cataloging system that classify and organize all of the available resources to help people find exactly what they are looking for. The cataloging system, along with many knowledgeable reference librarians who are available to help anyone locate resources makes the library a better option for researching than the internet.
Not only are libraries more ideal for researching that the internet in regards to the many reliable resources and helpful librarians available for assistance, but they provide the public with a place to work with limited distractions from people’s everyday lives. The internet itself contains an endless amount of distractions such as social networking sites. With popular sites such as Facebook, the society has become intrigued by the addictive quality of online social networking and it has gradually become a part of many people’s everyday lives. Taking into account my personal experiences, I can accurately say that Facebook has been a major distraction in the past that tended to sidetrack me from doing online school work or research. According to Facebook’s statistics, there are over eight-hundred million active users and more than 50% of the users log into their Facebook pages every day. Those statistics make it apparent that Facebook very well may be a main distraction in several people’s everyday lives. However, libraries counter the addictive quality of social networking sites and other distractions on the internet by providing a quiet environment that surrounds people with others who are hard at work, and lend a motivational affect on everyone in the library. Also, because libraries are a quiet zone it limits conversations with others, allowing maximum concentration on getting work done; whereas being elsewhere, such as in the comfort of one’s own home, easily allows one the freedom to become distracted.
Libraries lend people a place where free resources are offered and distractions are limited; however, the idea of having to travel to a library nowadays deems to be inconvenient due to technology and the internet. Many are choosing to pay monthly costs for internet services and mobile devices; according to Internet World Stats 77.3% of the American population are using and paying for internet services and 77.1% own smartphones. The average cost for internet services are around $14.95 per month; therefore, amounting up to $179 per year. Americans are opting for a more expensive alternative by relying heavily on the internet, and are neglecting the free usage of more reliable resources at public libraries across within many communities across the nation. Also, it is hard to overlook the fact that books tend to be inconvenient to carry around because they can be heavy and bulky. With modern day technology smartphones and other lightweight devices such as the Kindle allow people to carry dozens of books in the palm of their hand. Instead of checking books out at the library for free, people are opting to pay for digitized versions of books; the prices of these books seem to be a minor factor compared to the convenience of having the ability to carry many books wherever they go on a tiny device. The internet is as convenient as it is efficient; it offers text, videos, interactive features, audio, hyperlinks, and graphics making research more entertaining and possibly more effective. For example, hyperlinks within texts on the internet allow people to immediately travel to other related pages to help further their research. Also, videos and interactive features have the ability to make research more entertaining because they immerse people into the topic being studied. Another positive aspect of the internet is that sources on websites can be constantly updated and may be more recent versus the many resources found in the library. According to the article “The Future of Reading” it is said that “Defenders of online reading respond that learning to use 21st-century technology proficiently is far more essential to adapting to the rapid flow of information than maintaining traditional reading habits” most likely due to the fact that all the resources found online can be accessed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It allows people with busy schedules to obtain information and do research according to one’s personal agenda without having to waste travel time to go to a library. With the many positive characteristics of using the internet for research, it is easy to see why a majority of people prefer to use the internet than have to go out of their way to travel to the library.
Although the internet allows people to stay in the comfort of their own homes to conduct research and has some of the same resources that can be found in libraries, libraries contain more positive aspects that deem more important than the idea of convenience. Libraries provide free, reliable resources, friendly service from the knowledgeable librarians, and a quiet and distraction free environment to concentrate. The resources found within libraries are more reliable than those found online because they are all official documents that were edited prior to their publication. Librarians are also available to help people find the exact sources they need and can offer expert advice on how to improve their research. Lastly, the quiet environments of libraries limit distractions and conversations, helping people become motivated to concentrate on their work. I believe that the many options that the libraries offer are more effective and that people should not opt for convenience over better, more reliable resources