The Sabah State Library is the first public library in
to offer its members ebook services. I learnt this at a talk given by a representative of the State Library last Wednesday. Malaysia
You only need to be member of the State Library to be able to download the books into your ebook reader or ipad. Currently, there are 2000 titles to choose from. You could borrow four books at one time and you have the option to keep them for seven or 14 or 21 days after which you just click on an icon to return them. Perfect for busy people, the housebound and those who find going to the library a hassle. At home, you could peruse the book lists at your convenience without even having to change out of your shorts or comb your hair! Nothing could be simpler!
Despite all these conveniences, there’s one thing that’s bugging me. And I hope I’m not alone.
|My latest haul from the library|
What would happen when more and more people have given up reading real books? If there are so few users that it becomes a waste of time and resources to keep a library open, will the library be closed down? What will happen to the library’s collections? Will the books be sold? Given away? Recycled?
Let’s say the books are given away or donated to some institutions such as orphanages, nursing homes and such. (Remember, Malaysians read an average of TWO books a year—up from TWO PAGES in the 1980s—so there might not be many takers if the books are sold.) Let’s say the empty libraries are then turned into community halls where people come to discuss the community’s problems or learn indigenous crafts etc.
Now 30-40-50 years down the road, let’s say there’s a Great Disaster—akin to the Great Depression because it is widespread and on a global scale. But this one involves the complete breakdown of the internet. Servers can’t be accessed. All ebooks disappear. Okay, I don’t have to ramify. You get my drift but… what if it really happens?
|My book at the 'new books section' at the Donggongon Library|
I can see the advantages of ebooks, from saving the forests to the convenience of the finished products. But I can also see that ebooks and ebook readers are going to contribute to the death of the library. It will be a sad day for civilization when our libraries cease to exist as gathering places for people to seek information and enjoy books.
Needless to say, I’m buying books from brick-and-mortar bookshops and borrowing physical books from the library until forever. I don't want the library to die.
What about you?