A library in Newport Beach, CA is considering a rather drastic renovation — getting rid of all paper books and librarians. In their place will be computers that allow patrons to order books which will then be available for pickup in a locker (a system the LA Times aptly compares to Netflix). Readers will also be able to chat with off-site librarians. Rumor has it, in a nearby town, lawmakers are considering an ordinance that will allow cats to marry dogs.
But in actuality, while the news will surely cause some handwringing among traditionalists, the change matches the way people are actually using the library. According to the article:
In Newport Beach, which has four city libraries, officials analyzed how patrons use them. Most visit the branches to study, to plug their laptops into work spaces or to use computers with Internet connections.
I'm someone who hated the notion of e-books and talked (somewhat snobbishly) about the tangible pleasures of physical artifacts… until the moment I got a Kindle and realized how much more reading I actually get done with it. And so, it's hard for me not to support changes like this. Let's make libraries relevant to how people actually read now (on their computers) and what they look for in a public space (a place to plug in their computers), rather than spending money on a model that's better suited to the previous generation's habits.