Almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries have disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total, and 343 libraries have closed, an investigation by the BBC has revealed.
Every industry has been disrupted by the digital age and companies that fail to innovate (like Kodak infamously did) can easily fall by the wayside. Libraries are facing their Kodak moment as they struggle to figure out how to continue to exist and offer a useful and valuable service.
One of the ideas mentioned for the future of libraries is for them to become community hubs, but this is just about keeping the building open and so misses the point of a library. Libraries were once the only and best place to find out information and gain knowledge. Full of books, magazines, newspapers and DVD’s on all kinds of subjects, and a system for getting any book that your branch didn’t have reserved and brought in for you, libraries were market leaders in delivering the worlds knowledge. Now, Google, Wikipedia, Amazon Kindle, and NetFlix have taken the role of libraries, digitised it and put in our phones. It’s no wonder libraries can’t keep up.
So, maybe with no chance of catching up with their information, knowledge, and entertainment competitors perhaps libraries should think of themselves as just buildings. It’s hard to imagine how they could diversify in any other way.