Degrego's Argument Essay

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Kathy DeGrego's T-shirt lets you know right away she isn't an old-school librarian. "Shhh," it says, "is a four-letter word." That spirit of bookish defiance has guided the makeover of the suburban Denver library system where DeGrego works. Reference desks and study carrels have been replaced by rooms where kids can play Guitar Hero. Overdue book fines have been eliminated, and the arcane Dewey Decimal System has been scrapped in favor of bookstore-like sections organized by topic. "It's very common for people to say, 'Why do I need a library when I've got a computer?' " said Pam Sandlian-Smith, director of the seven-branch Rangeview, Colo., Library District. "We have to reframe what the library means to the community." In the…show more content…
"The argument that all these young people would turn up to play video games and think, 'Oh by the way, I must borrow that book by Dostoyevsky' — it seems ludicrous to me." Others argue that reinvention is a matter of survival in an age when Google Inc. has made the reference desk almost obsolete and printed books are beginning to look more like antique collectibles. The number of books checked out by the average public library user dropped nearly 6% between 1997 and 2007, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Book checkouts at the New York Public Library alone plunged by 1 million volumes in the most recent fiscal year. At the 540,000-square-foot Central Library in downtown Los Angeles — the largest public research library west of the Mississippi — few visitors wander the main floors where most of the building's 2 million books are kept. At wooden reading tables, only a handful of people sit paging through…show more content…
libraries grew nearly 60% between 2005 and 2008, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. During the same period libraries' print collections grew less than 1%, though ink-on-paper works still make up 98% of U.S. libraries' holdings. Joan Frye Williams, a library consultant and futurist, believes that the underlying purpose of libraries will not change, even if bookshelves disappear. "Saying that there's a challenge to libraries because books are changing would be like saying there's a challenge to family dinner because plates are changing," she said. Digital technology is also allowing libraries to digitize large swaths of their collections, creating a virtual library accessible from any computer. Libraries are leading the effort to scan centuries' worth of rare, unique and fragile materials as varied as medieval religious manuscripts and antique phone books — whatever they've been keeping in the basement. Libraries are reluctant to digitize new bestsellers and other books still in copyright, or roughly anything published after 1923. But there remains a vast trove of classic books, government documents, historical papers and other material not covered by copyright that libraries can scan without fear of litigation. Many of these digital books and documents can be searched, read and even downloaded

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