Are School Libraries Still Relevant?

The mainstreaming of e-readers and the wide availability of digitized and interactive content has sparked fierce debate on the future of reading and, in particular, the printed book. A corollary of this uncertainty can be seen in the anxious discussions on the future role of libraries and media specialists. In particular, many worry about the appropriate role for the media specialist or the appropriate structure for the school library. In an age where an increasing amount of information is digital and students are routinely required to access and present information within multiple mediums, what is the most useful structure for traditional libraries? And what sort of spaces do we envision these institutions becoming?

While the debate has certainly revealed a range of opinions, most of those positions share more commonality than not. Despite the occasional rhetorical flourish, most participants find general consensus with one another and differ only on the particulars. There are not many that advocate for libraries completely devoid of printed books, and fewer still believe that libraries should cling to the past and banish all digital content. Between the bookless library and the musty anachronism there lies much common ground. (more…)

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