Libraries Are Healthy

Author Ben Shattuck inquires into the Health of Libraries on both sides of the US in McSweeneys.

…in NYC: When I called the New York Public Library to ask their thoughts on the health of libraries in the face of the digital age, the librarian on the other end of the line, seemingly offended I’d even asked the question, answered with such a flurry of numbers that I lost track of somewhere between “thousands of Braille titles” and “millions of books.” The figures I later culled from a less excitable source, the NYPL homepage, are staggering: at the NYPL alone, 14 million books (in 494 languages), 400 databases, 700,000 digitized images, 30,000 e-book, music, and video items, and 66,000 linear feet of manuscripts; plus audio-books, scanned books, even animated talking picture books.

…in SF: On the other side of the country, Luis Herrera, City Librarian of the San Francisco Public Library system (expressed) enthusiasm for the digital dawn: “Libraries are thriving from a standpoint of demand right now. We have a very dynamic transformation to print, e-collections, and media—all of these are going to be vital to public libraries. I don’t see the printed word diminished at all.”