For avid readers this may not come as a surprise but to the general public, including techie geeks, it may come as a shock that books in print are making a strong comeback. Publishers Weekly reported in September of 2014 that print outsold digital media by a very health margin. It appears that print is not dead. Who knew, right? Librarians may not see the statistics daily from publishers, but judging from what is checked out of the library on a daily basis, print seems to be winning the race there as well. Let's face it, books have been around so long it almost makes one wonder if this was one wheel that did not need to be re-invented.
Patrons will often ask the question of librarians, about the future of libraries with digital formats? Texas has begun the experiment of BiblioTech, the first public library that is fully digital. Rows of iMacs, alongside iPads greet patrons as they walk in to sit and browse the internet or download material to read on an iPad. Is this library of the future busy? Yes, but there is still the complaints that the screen hurts the eyes. It's not a very welcoming, cozy place and yes print books need to be in a library. Computers are wonderful but there is something to be said about holding a physical book.
Bill Gates once noted that the generation that would be most comfortable with the digital age were the ones who grew up with computers all around them. The cell phones. The computers. The video games. At one point it did seem as if this made sense. However, it is very difficult to predict human nature. Did anyone believe that vinyl records would make a comeback? Surprisingly, there is a surge in young college kids who want to experience the scratching tunes from a roundtable. Goodness, to think old folks were complaining about the skips on record as if they were a bad thing! This generation that grew up with the techie environment may be teaching the older generation a thing or two. Maybe some things are best left untouched.
Libraries have been trying to be the peace brokers, if you will, between print and digital formats. Perhaps, what is really going is that the dust is finally settling and the verdict is in. It's okay to have both formats in a library side by side. Both have their uses and both have disadvantages. Will there be more libraries like BiblioTech in the future? No one can say for certain. After all by this time, books in print have died many deaths and been resurrected so many times it's hard to keep count. Let's not forget, we also have the resurgent of vinyl record. Could the rotary phone be too far behind?