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Libraries Have & Will Continue To Stand The Test Of Time 

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USFSP chapter.

Some people’s earliest memories of their childhood may have been from going to the library. From children checking out movies and picture books to adults looking for their next novel to read, the library was the first place they would look. In my experience, libraries have been a quiet and safe space where you can feel comfortable. Now, since the digital renaissance, accessing information and articles has completely changed since people can search online for eBooks and PDFs. One may argue that the use of libraries has been on the decline since the start of the digital age. However, libraries have been able to make the necessary adjustments and updates to their services so that they remain relevant in 2023.  

Libraries have never been stable institutions as they have frequently undergone radical change throughout the world’s history. According to the Washington Post, modern libraries have advanced by including computers, meeting spaces, culinary learning centers, and coffee shops, but this isn’t the first time they’ve seen change. The first medieval libraries had to chain their books when the number of visitors became overwhelming, and 19th-century libraries had to expand for women and children. There were also library purges during the French Revolution when soldiers used thousands of books from the libraries to make cartridges for firearms, and after World War II, public libraries were challenged to de-Nazify by burning pro-Nazi books. The Washington Post article concluded that libraries are seen as symbols of power, so they have always been under threat when that power is challenged. Because of the instability that libraries have evolved through, the article states this proves “the library, as a concept, will continue to evolve, balancing the needs of communities with their roles as keepers of knowledge reflecting the society’s values.” 

Not only has the environment and the content of libraries changed, but the purpose and role of the institutions have too. According to the blog Princh, libraries provide the community with more than just a place to borrow books, it is also a place to host social and cultural events and provide educational resources. While some people use coffee shops, public libraries serve as a free and quiet space for students and others to work. Libraries have modernized to the point of providing digital tools like an app for the library where people can search the books available at a certain location and check out eBooks to read on digital devices. The blog states that libraries will “continue to be relevant and in demand in the future since statistics have shown that they are still significant centers for a community.” It was found that “visiting the library is the ‘most common cultural activity Americans engage in by far,'” and “in 2019, U.S. adults reported taking an average of 10.5 trips to the library.” According to the Pew Research Center, a national survey of Americans 16 years and older reported that 80% of Americans say borrowing books and reference librarians are “very important” services libraries provide and 77% say free access to computers and the internet is also a “very important” service libraries provide. The survey also found that “a notable share of Americans say they would embrace even wider uses of technology at libraries.” 

In the early 2000s, statistics predicted the future of libraries to be non-existent, but libraries have continued to thrive through many radical changes. Today, there are 2.6 million libraries around the world, with 400,000 of them being public libraries. According to Princh, “libraries have done a great job by adapting and leveraging their mission of providing everyone with access to information and matching it with society’s needs.” In my opinion, libraries provide resources to the community that no other business or technological service can recreate, therefore, libraries will continue to be around in the future no matter where technology goes. I’m grateful that libraries can keep adapting to new generations and movements because I and others will be able to keep going to different ones later in my life. For people like myself, who have or want a career in the library environment, the knowledge that libraries aren’t going anywhere is important. Luckily, there will not be any worry that the availability of jobs in library sciences will waver. 

Erin is a contributing writer for Her Campus USFSP. She enjoys writing about entertainment topics, such as the music and film industry, and about health and wellness or political topics pertaining to women. If Erin is not reading or browsing Goodreads, she is reviewing films on Letterboxd, making playlists, or in line on Ticketmaster.