By Victoria White
Sundials, VHS tapes, and iceboxes: all things which have been relegated to the past due to a constantly progressing society; my question is, where do libraries fit in this scope? With the digital age well in motion, it’s hard to imagine libraries have an easy road ahead of them.
As Amazon is dominating the bookselling industry with Kindle e-books and Audible audiobooks, the libraries we once knew just cannot compete in terms of convenience.
Don’t throw away your library card just yet though. We need to re-evaluate libraries as they continue to advance into the modern age and attempt to meet the needs of the evolved.
When Amazon launched their first Kindle e-reader in 2007, it changed the game. Their 2008 purchase of the company Audible further cemented them as a leader in the bookselling industry by making reading more convenient and accessible through their products and services.
Libraries have had to find a way to compete, and to do so have partnered with companies like Overdrive and Hoopla to lend out free digital items with a library card.
The Lawton Public Library, for example, offers access to apps to check out e-books, audiobooks, movies, magazines, and more. A library card also provides free access to software for language learning, online tutoring, and job resources.
The sense of community found within the library is almost impossible to duplicate. The libraries we visit today are often not the same as those of the past: dimly lit with the only conversation existing within muffled tones, often eliciting a hush from the librarian. Nowadays, libraries are epicenters for conversation, encouraging both patrons and staff to interact with one another.
Libraries have consistently served those in marginalized communities. On their website, Wayland Free Public Library in Massachusetts posted an article titled, “7 Reasons Libraries Are Essential, Now More Than Ever.”
“In today’s political climate, libraries have become centers for the movement that supports women, immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and those facing religious persecution,” the article states. “They are free public spaces that allow everyone to feel safe and to find opportunity.”
English Education student Scotlyn Koehler enjoys going to the library, as she finds it to be a safe space.
“I just love the experience of going to the library, just taking your time,” Koehler says. “It’s such a calm environment.”
The primary amenities available on the first floor of the library at Cameron University. The library offers computers and printers which are covered through student fees. The newest addition to the Cameron library is Aggie Books and Brew, located in the front atrium. It is surprising how few students seem to make use of some of the other amenities the library offers.
Koehler is a frequent visitor of the Cameron library, typically coming daily between classes or shifts at the Center for Writers. Though she is at the library frequently, she rarely sees other students taking advantage of the facilities.
“Everyone knows there’s a library here,” Koehler says. “I don’t know if they fully know all the access they have to things.”
Koehler utilizes the various rooms available for reservation, such as meeting rooms and carrels, as well as the new study pods. She often uses the library for checking out books relevant to her coursework, but also finds the online resources just as helpful, such as EBSCO for finding sources for her writing. The Cameron library is always adding new services, both in-person and digitally.
Society is constantly advancing, and the necessity of libraries has not diminished with it; in fact, libraries are keeping up the pace, always there to meet our needs.