Two Writers and their thoughts about the Future of Libraries

People love to talk about the future of libraries. Here are two pretty different viewpoints:

1. MG Siegler and TechCrunch:

A couple days ago, TechCrunch published The End of the Library, written by MG Siegler. In it, Mr. Siegler says this:

  • “it’s hard not to imagine a future where the majority of libraries cease to exist — at least as we currently know them. Not only are they being rendered obsolete in a digital world, the economics make even less sense. One can easily envision libraries making their way to the forefront of any budget cut discussions.” – Sorta his main point.
  • But he also admits to this: “It’s hard for me to even remember the last time I was in a library. I was definitely in one this past summer in Europe — on a historical tour. Before that, I think it was when I was in college.”

Um. Dude. That’s like saying “I hate Macs! And I’ve never even used one!” At least go visit one before writing about them (I hear there’s a pretty fine library in San Francisco).

Unfortunately, articles like this make me wonder about the editorial integrity of TechCrunch. They apparently allow writers to publish opinion pieces with absolutely no experience about the topic, (which Mr. Siegler admits to). What about all those other articles on TechCrunch? Hmm…

2. Neil Gaiman, well-known writer:

Around the same time, Neil Gaiman wrote Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming in the Guardian. In his article, Neil says this about libraries:

“But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories – they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.”

So. Neil Gaiman speaks from experience. He’s been in and around libraries his whole life. MG Seigler admits to not remembering the last time he was in a library.

Who ya gonna believe?

photo of MG Siegler by TechCrunch