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Librarians are only surpassed by religious fundamentalists in their dystopian view of their futures. The past week has shown to me that all this negativity may well be unwarranted. The sheer number of news sources and bloggers who picked up the story of the .Texas Wal Mart that was turned into a library demonstrates to me that when people really think about it, they want to see libraries succeed.
When I first dipped my foot into social media people would frequently ask me, "When will books go away? When will libraries disappear?" That was back when the e-book reader was born and the stock market crash started. The economy was shaken to its core. The fiscal libertarians salivated over the possibility of the possibility of eviscerating the government and slashing the social safety net to shreds. Conservatives and liberals looked at the internet as the ultimate replacement of everything library. Data phones, e-book readers and tablet computers seemed to point to a future when libraries and paper books could be viewed as irrelevant.
Several years later; the internet, data phones, tablets and e-book readers are a larger part of the knowledge ecosystem, but they bring with them their own problems. While we are pushing more information into the cloud, we are becoming more acutely aware that these things are run by actual servers somewhere. We are able to put things into the cloud only to the extent that we have the physical infrastructure to support it. Many are also realizing that, that which makes our favorite search tools work so well is the information we feed it and that information is in turn used by the same search tools to sell us stuff based on the information we feed it.
In this new world libraries and books look pretty good. I gathered the following articles last week to show the interest that people have in libraries:
This was first published in The Antiquarian Librarian blog.