As some of you are aware, I decided to head back to school to get my MBA and I made the decision to jump start working on a research paper even though school doesn’t start for a couple of weeks.   The professor for a particular class posted the syllabus online and I got the general idea behind the required paper so I decided to go to the city library to gather some material for my preliminary paper.

I didn’t seriously expect to see a card catalog system but I look anyway because that’s how I used to find books in the library many many years ago!  As I wondered about the library, a nice librarian came over and asked if she could help.  I explained my situation and she took me over to a computer terminal (i.e. PC) and said I could begin my research at the computer.    After playing with the computer for a few minutes, it dawned on me that I could have done the entire research from my house!   The entire city library periodicals were online!

With publishers moving to e-books or other online formats, how long will it be before libraries are obsolete?   I’m seeing ads for netbooks for $199 which come with built in internet access and this will essentially provide access to huge volumes of books, magazines, newspapers and other media instantly.  What is the purpose of the library anymore?    The library structure consumes a great deal of energy (lighting, heating/cooling, plumbing, etc) and also has extensive maintenance costs so I’m guessing someone is going to crunch some numbers and determine that it will be cheaper to give every citizen in the neighborhood a netbook (or kindle) with access to online books than maintaining the building, staff, etc.

If the record/cd store became obsolete, if the DVD is becoming obsolete, then surely the public library will become obsolete too right?   For the first time in my life, I’m feeling old and nostalgic.   I still remember the smell of those old card catalog systems at the library; a cross pollination between musty and stale card stock with a twist old oak or pine.  God those were the days………