Library: The future of libraries

If you mention libraries these days, someone is bound to ask, “aren’t libraries going to be extinct soon?” Or, “with everyone owning a (pick one: computer, PDA, Smart Phone, iPad, Kindle, MP3 player), why do we need libraries?”

Depending upon your point of view, how you feel about technology and whether you indeed own one (or more) of the above devices, either of these questions can provoke a long and spirited debate. But the short answers to these questions are: “Emphatically, no” and “As long as libraries continue to evolve and change with the needs and wants of their consumers, there will be a place for them in our lives.”

But rest assured, the library community and the staff and board of the Shelter Island Public Library are vigorously involved in this discussion and are constantly searching for ways to remain relevant and responsive to the community’s needs.

In addition to the “hard copy” resources that the majority of Island patrons still want and enjoy, the Shelter Island Library is experimenting with the Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble Nook, both of which allow electronic downloads of books through our Live-brary service.

But the library has also become a place where people can gather, learn, relax and socialize. For many of those who work at home, bringing a laptop to the library and using the high-speed Wi-Fi capabilities, is a welcome break from the solitary nature of their days. There are classes, activities and programs for community members of all ages every single day. The computers are always busy and demand for the monthly Windows classes and one-on-tutoring is very strong. All of this is quite a change from the “Shhh…no talking, please” library environment that many of us remember from our childhoods and a major step in the evolution of “the library.”

Ironically, the plethora of information available online, through search engines, Wikipedia, blogs and the like, has created more of a need for information professionals, a.k.a. librarians, in order to help patrons sort the proverbial wheat from the chaff, assist them in finding trusted and accurate answers to their inquiries and drawing their attention to new sources of information.

In a recent article, “Redefining the library in the age of Google and Wikipedia,” Google is seen not as a threat but as an efficient gateway to the library’s resources and Wikipedia, despite its at times questionable accuracy, can be useful as a jumping off point for preliminary research or a quick primer into a certain topic. Library users of the future, the article goes on to say, “can expect discovery tools that connect people to information. They will become places where … collaboration and exchange of ideas will take place.”

So, while the debate will undoubtedly rage on, rest assured that libraries as we know them aren’t going to become extinct any time soon. See you at the library!


“Ape House,” Sarah Guren

“Call Me Mrs. Miracle,” Debbie Macomber

“Crossfire,” Dick Francis (also in large print)

“Painted Ladies,” Robert B. Parker (also in large print and audio book)

“The Cobra,” Frederick Forsyth (also in large print)

“Collusion,” Stuart Neville

“Cross Roads,” Fern Michaels

“Dark Peril: A Carpathian Novel,” Christine Feehan

“Getting to Happy,” Terry McMillan

“Legacy,” Danielle Steel

“Gold Boy, Emerald Girl,” Yiyun Li

“Maybe This Time,” Jennifer Crusie

“Mini-Shopaholic,” Sophie Kinsella

“A Nose for Justice,” Rita Mae Brown (also in large print)

“Portobello,” Ruth Rendell

“Safe Haven,” Nicholas Sparks

“Sourland: Stories,” Joyce Carol Oates

“The Summer We Read Gatsby,” Danielle Ganek

“Fall of Giants,” Book One of the Century Trilogy,” Ken Follett*

“Only the Super Rich Can Save Us!” Ralph Nader

“The Way of Kings: Book One, Starlight Archive,” Brandon Sanderson

“The Trials of Zion,” Alan Dershowitz

“The Valcourt Heiress,” Christine Coulter (also in large print)

“The Confession,” John Grisham

“Nemesis,” Philip Roth

“The Twelfth Imam,” Joel C. Rosenberg*

“Our Kind of Traitor,” John LeCarre* (also in large print)


“Design It, Knit It: Babies,” Debbie Bliss

“Golden Gate,” Kevin Starr

“How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint…” Frank M. Ahern

“Life is a Sailboat,” John Grogan

“Three Ways to Capsize a Boat,” Chris Stewart

“The Tiger,” John Vaillant

“The Warmth of Other Suns,” Isabel Wilkerson*

“Washington Rules,” Andrew J. Bacevich

“The Wave,” Susan Casey

“Soccernomics,” Simon Kuper

“Proofiness,” Charles Seife

“Promise Me,” Nancy Brinker

“White House Diary,” Jimmy Carter

“Patti Lupone,” Patti Lupone

“The Grace of Silence,” Michele Norris

“The Last Hero: The Life of Henry Aaron,” Howard Bryant

“Bob Dylan in America,” Sean Wilentz

“Charlie Chan,” Yunte Huang

“A Journey,” Tony Blair

“Growing Up Laughing,” Marlo Thomas

“Washington: A Life,” Ron Chernow*

“Let’s Take the Long Way Home,” Gail Caldwell

“Breaking Night,” Liz Murray

*New York Times bestseller