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The relevance of traditional libraries in the future
The contemporary era characterized by the digital revolution, has imposed new challenges in all fields of the individual’s life. The search for information, like any other human activity, has also been involved in explosive changes derived from this revolution. Traditional public libraries have had to find new forms of satisfaction of changing needs and skills of the communities they serve, hence the fact of the current need for coexistence of information on traditional platforms on paper with that of digitized information. However, current search and obtaining trends point out that absolute digitalization is still away from user preference. The basic functions performed by the library to preserve the content, select collections, help people to find what they want in those collections and make books and knowledge affordable, are critical, whether the content appears digitally or in the impression. Therefore public libraries will still last for an indeterminate time. What will change is the form and types of services that will provide.
In a study published in Spain in 2013, 81% of users still read paper books with their children, and 69% prefer to share them printed. 43% of readers in bed do so with paper books and 35% select this format for their readings. Only 19% of book users while traveling, select the printed format, and 13% say they are able to get it quickly. While the impression remains important, the library will probably continue to be the only institution capable of buying, hosting and maintaining large collections of printed and material books for customers to use them. A hybrid world where people read both printed and digital, could offer the library an opportunity to expand their role beyond traditional functions and serve as a bridge between printed and electronic formats. With the decline of brick libraries, the library can become one of the few places where people can see books exhibited together on the shelves and readers could choose to obtain it in the way that agreed, borrowing it from the shelf, downloading A free copy if the title is not protected by copyright or available for electronic loans, or buying a printed copy or electronic copy for your own library. According to statistics published in September 2007 and compiled by the Federation of the Guild of Editors of Spain, 93.8% of respondents still use, differently, the service of libraries, physically visiting them at some point. Therefore its existence remains justified and the trend I do not think will change in the future mediate.
However, when books become digital, it allows others to assume the traditional roles of the library. Google, Amazon and Apple have already created larger electronic collections than any library. Sophisticated catalogs and search engines help people find information in these huge commercial libraries. In the survey conducted in Spain and published by Julián Marquina in 2013, it was found that 53% of readers select reading in digital format, 73% choose to read while traveling on this platform and the vast majority of 83% coincides that the electronic format of a book is much faster to acquire. In the academic market, scientific and technical publishers and professional societies are already collecting and providing most of the magazine literature by digitizing them. As with electronic consumption books, catalogs, databases and search engines serve as search tools. The cost of academic literature will probably remain high, so the traditional function of the library to provide affordable access will remain important.
The skills, training, knowledge and experience of librarians are inseparably linked to the book and the published literature. The services carried out by librarians are still necessary in the digital era, whether everything is electronic or in a hybrid environment. According to Julián Marquina in his article published in April 2013, the librarians of the future will have the sentinel papers (guarantor of the quality of the available information), evaluator (compare and recommend content), filtering (find the relevance information), certifier (Never deceive), aggregator/synthesizer (establish connections between multiple sources), organizer (provide contacts to facilitate searches) and facilitator (understand user objectives and help obtain success). The original report entitled “Debate: Libraries in the Digital Age” which was published on November 30, 2012 by National Radio of Spain, shows how in Barcelona there is already a hybrid library that, although it still faces computer network challenges, serves its public with indisputable success and demonstrates the way to follow by public library.
However, the future has absolutist tendency to digitalization so that traditional public libraries, to guarantee their subsistence, effectiveness, efficiency and profitability will have to adapt and more and more will be based on digital platforms. Possibly paper books will disappear while future generations absolutely prefer this type of format. Traditional libraries will end up being museums where these historical memories are exhibited as we now exhibit the Egyptian papyrus.
While this comes, the coexistence of the printed and digital world will be the library reality of the most immediate future. In a sense, much of how libraries develop in the future will depend on how technology develops itself, particularly around the Internet and development in artificial intelligence. Therefore, an image of the library that faces challenges that the digital age has imposed begins to emerge. Their identity and value in the future will depend on how he is able to face them, evolve and adapt to the needs of the users. The challenge is big, but bigger will be the will to challenge it. More than a thousand years of services cannot die. Libraries will survive.