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Shutting Down Libraries in Favour of Digital Databases?

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Miruna Demian, 11A

Olenka Sergienko, Pexels

A highly debated subject as of the last two decades has been whether we need physical libraries anymore. To me, the library is an indispensable institution for any sort of establishment.

First of all, in a sea of paid-only amenities, the library rises up as a sanctuary with free entry for everyone. Ever since I was a child and had no money on me, the library has been the sole haven within which I could take refuge in from the loud noises and overbearing humdrum of urbanisation. Libraries, therefore, should not only be acknowledged for their educational role, but for their social role as well.

Secondly, an online library is never going to be able to replicate the sensation and atmosphere of browsing through bookshelves, or that of stumbling over a book and having it become one of your favourites. The perusing of pages, the smell of beloved books cannot be equalled by a screen. Plus, it has been shown that our brain processes the things we read out of a book differently from words on a screen. Yes, sorting titles would become much more efficient in a virtual database, and the number of copies available may never present a problem anymore, but how much of the contents of what we'd read would we be able to hold on to for a longer period of time?

I am sure that holding a book in your hands, temporarily annotating it, carrying it on you as a physical object serves only to make its contents and the impression it leaves on us more indelible, in comparison to a text file on a display. According to a survey I conducted among 10 students from every class in our school, and results have been factionalized. Fewer than half of respondents read books regularly, but even so, most of them hold strong opinions regarding books.

Among the older students, grades 11 and 12 had similar answers, with 78% of them preferring physical books over digital ones. The percentage of those who favoured physical over digital was, for ninth graders, 55%, and for tenth graders, 52%.

Moving onto middle school, grades 5 and 6 had similar answers, with a whopping 80% average preferring the digital medium. Grades 7 and 8 had a 5:5 ratio, resulting in a tie between preferences.

Thus, what is the answer, after all? On balance, it would seem that those in grade 7 and above are inclined towards physical copies, which would make sense, given the fact that younger students have not known the world without digitalisation. Still, they represent the future - whether they choose to discard the tangible in favour of automation is up to them.

To conclude, I believe that replacing whole libraries with e-books, and furthermore shutting them down would be detrimental not only to us, but to upcoming generations as well.

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1 komentář

Neznámý člen
17. 4. 2022

Although I acknowledge the importance of digital books in the fight against waste, and helping the environment, physical books are better for developing attention span. And I have to admit that, were it not for the libraries, I wouldn't have read many of the books I love - Cooking For Geeks, philosophy books, medical and physiological education books... and it's thanks to browsing among the bookshelves, chatting with the librarians and receiving some of the best reviews for the best books to read:) No digital library can compare, but those digital books are great additional tools.

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