Stacked books, empty halls, deadpan silence. Libraries are breathing their last. An industry that’s disrupted. They have lost their appeal. You can get information quickly, effortlessly and at little to no cost on your device, you can plug in your earphones and play the white noise, There’s always a copy of that expensive book on torrent, you can sit at any coffee shop table and read through! Why do we need libraries then?
We don’t need them anymore.
What we do need and what I hope the libraries transform themselves into:
1: We need a sense of community; Where we can openly debate, discuss and derive our opinions, ideas and perspectives. Organising debates on topics that matter to the youth (not from the syllabus but subjects but around it that youth wants to voice out. think: sex, religion and politics.).
2: We are over informed and under skilled. Libraries need to transform into a workshop. It needs to create a bias for action by setting up pop-up stalls or workshops of skills that are valuable but not available as a full-time course: Tattooing, Vlogging, photography, handwriting analysis. 0 investment yet higher footfalls in the library. People will eventually refer books to deepen their understanding of the newly acquired skills.
3: Open house sessions with authors that are championing ideas, theories, stories that are relevant.
4: Don’t push students into the library. Through the means of attendance shortage, excessive research-oriented assignments, free-hours. Pull them instead. Create the environment that encourages learning, ask interesting questions, create quizzes and reward them bountifully, recommend top 5 books, make it fun.
5: A democratic library. Let the students lead the organising of events, engagements. Let them vote, recommend and edit the list of books to be bought, let them donate their used books. Let them browse through any website of their choice.
Libraries are not competing against Google, Wikipedia and the entire internet. They are complementing them. Their purpose is to educate, inform and inspire students to learn. Its high time they stop boasting about the number of books they stack. It’s time they boast about how many students who never pick up books to read are taking out the time to read? How many students are voicing their informed, well thought out opinions?
Now, go make something happen.