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The future of libraries, with or without books–from CNN

Posted by Editor on September 4, 2009

by John D. Sutter

(CNN) — The stereotypical library is dying — and it’s taking its shushing ladies, dank smell and endless shelves of books with it.

Books are being pushed aside for digital learning centers and gaming areas. “Loud rooms” that promote public discourse and group projects are taking over the bookish quiet. Hipster staffers who blog, chat on Twitter and care little about the Dewey Decimal System are edging out old-school librarians.

And that’s just the surface. By some accounts, the library system is undergoing a complete transformation that goes far beyond these image changes.

Authors, publishing houses, librarians and Web sites continue to fight Google’s efforts to digitize the world’s books and create the world’s largest library online. Meanwhile, many real-world libraries are moving forward with the assumption that physical books will play a much-diminished or potentially nonexistent role in their efforts to educate the public.

Some books will still be around, they say, although many of those will be digital. But the goal of the library remains the same: To be a free place where people can access and share information.

“The library building isn’t a warehouse for books,” said Helene Blowers, digital strategy director at the Columbus [Ohio] Metropolitan Library. “It’s a community gathering center.”…

Read entire post here:  http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/09/04/future.library.technology/index.html

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