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  • Angela Duckett

Is The Library Cancelled?

Is the art of the library gone? Sure. There are still library buildings all over town but the art and science of it all? Is it history? Being proficient on a trip to the library used to require specific knowledge and sure skill. Is this cancelled now?

Those of us who pride ourselves in our Dewey Decimal, card catalog, microfiche prowess would love to say, “No”. And I'm certain the many people currently working in the occupation of librarian would also say, “No”. However a recent conversation with my 14 year old daughter has me wondering and quite frankly, nervous.

She’s convinced she doesn't need the library. “How will you ever do a research paper?" I asked. Her reply was "Google". Google? Really? She proceeded to explain to me that her English teacher taught them that websites with domain names ending in .org or .edu are reliable sources and to avoid using Wikipedia because the information found on that site is not always correct.

Well, she's right about Wikipedia, but waging confidence in every .org and .edu is extremely questionable.This thinking is nonsense to me. I'm a writer. I love the library, books, information and all things involving words. Where did I go wrong with her?

45% of the people who visit the library go there to use the computer.

I did some digging (on Goggle, sigh) according to the last completed survey of the Public Library Association, mean circulation is indeed down -11.4%. They state this is directly due to steady grown of electronic circulation. The data shows it’s true! Library usage is down in recent years. Pew Research conducted their own survey and found that 45% of the people who visit the library go there to use the computer. Wow!

The Dewey Decimal System has been in use since the 1870’s. This system groups books into 10 categories and numbers them 000 to 900. Decimals are used to further divide them into subcategories creating a numbering system that accommodates an infinite number of books. The problem is that millennials today find the numbering system outdated and cold. Books are arranged in number order on the shelves and not necessarily by topic.

Dewey is truly is no match to Google in that regard. Sure, it’s nice to have everything you need for your topic grouped together in one place.

In a physical library using traditional cataloging, you may have to visit several isles to find everything you need. In the larger libraries that could equate to visiting different departments and maybe even trips to different floors. Ahhh! Is this not the joy of the library? Roaming through the aisles and discovering all the wonderful books along the way is all the rage! Conversely, this is exactly what millennials and Gen Z’s despise. They want what they want… all together… immediately.

Many local libraries are trying new systems and new layouts. But even the new layouts still incorporate the Dewey System. The fact of the matter is, The Dewey Decimal system is so woven into our public libraries that it may take decades to completely replace it.

I suppose we must evolve. Sigh. I’m here for it. Kinda.

With or without Dewey, the library is no longer interesting to my kid. I have a strong feeling college will change that but for now, It’s a no. And I respect that.

Even without frequent trips to the Library, she’s an excellent reader; far above her grade level. She's also a fantastic writer. She can structure an idea and put her words on paper quite effortlessly.That makes me proud, even if she refuses to spend a Saturday morning at the library with me.


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