And here we thought The Economist was the smart newsweekly.
Link to September 1 The Economist post, "Is it time to revive the library?"
Excerpt: This is of course grim news for those who love to browse and thumb through actual physical books, and share space with others who are doing the same thing. But now would be a good time to recall another community landmark where we once happily did all of those things, and for free: the library. It's true that there is something vaguely titillating about browsing in an atmosphere where the temptations are to purchase and own, not simply borrow and read. It's also true that libraries have felt like dormant, dated spaces of late, where WiFi is absent, coffee is banned and budget cuts are rife. But if book-buying trends now sidestep bookstores, yet people still crave hushed public spaces in an atmosphere of books, then it is time to rethink our libraries—what they look like, what they offer and how they store their wares. (September, incidentally, is Library Card Sign-Up Month in America, but you probably knew that already.)
It bears repeating:
The 2010 Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study also finds that:
- 67 percent of libraries report they are the only provider of free public access to computers and the Internet in their communities;
- Public computer and Wi-Fi use was up last year for more than 70 percent of all libraries;
- 89 percent of libraries provide formal or informal technology training, including classes in computer skills, software use and online job-seeking;
- 82 percent of libraries provide Wi-Fi access (95% in Wisconsin);
- A majority of libraries offer Internet services ranging from subscription databases (95 percent) to online homework resources (88 percent) to ebooks (66 percent); and
- 66 percent of libraries provide assistance to patrons completing government forms.
Now, granted, The Economist is not a U.S. publication, but the article starts out with a U.S. focus.This week Barnes & Noble announced that it will be closing its Manhattan bookstore .at 66th Street and Broadway at the end of January.