The Electronic Library is on the Horizon
I believe libraries are in for a monumental change – a transition that has already started. I first talked about this change nineteen years ago in my newsletter, MUSE. Now, the advent of e-books has allowed the loaning or selling of books over the internet to be read on electronic devices (e-readers, tablets, laptops and desktops.) This technology has many advantages:
1.Books can be read on light-weight devices (e-readers or tablets). An enormous number of books can be saved on one e-reader; students will no longer have to lug around heavy books.
2.The size of text on e-readers can be changed instantaneously to accommodate the vision of the reader.
3.Optional, lighted displays allow many e-readers to be read under all lighting conditions.
4.The reader may have the option of listening (text-to-speech.)
5.Definition of any word can be accessed instantly; no need for dictionaries.
6.Many devices allow for animation to supplement textbooks.
7.Revisions/updates of textbooks can be delivered electronically – no more replacing worn out or out-of-date books.
8.Electronic storage of all literature and audio/visual media in a minimal amount of space negates the need for physical storage - no need to use space to stock shelves.
9.Fast retrieval of any book or other media at any time over the internet or local area network.
10.Library research can be done rapidly over the internet at any time from any place. Accessing cross-references is immediate.
11.Space occupied by school libraries can be used for additional classrooms or multipurpose rooms. Public library buildings will be used as meeting places for town activities and offices.
12.Schools can realize significant budgetary reductions over time due to lower prices of all texts, more space availability, and reduction in staff.
Sales of e-readers have risen dramatically (Nook, Kindle and others.) Many public libraries have started loaning books via the internet. The efficiencies and economies of electronic libraries are too real to ignore. It is only a matter of time that K-12 schools and colleges will follow suit.