I was looking through Google+ today and I saw the cartoon that Paul posted about Kindles, nooks, and Sony readers becoming the new forms of libraries. This got me thinking that what if these new devices could really replace such an important institution in learning. While Kindles, nooks, and Sony readers may be easier for some to use, I hope that they will always be used as an alternative to a paper book or library rather than a replacement. Personally, I have to have a physical piece of paper in my hand in order to learn, I need to handwrite notes on it and I need to post-it mark the pages for reference.

Could this new form of technology really replace libraries in the distant (or even not so distant future)?! It’s quite possible. Look at past advances in technology and how they have replaced “traditional” ways of learning. For example, when someone had to look up a word they had to find a dictionary, look up the word, and write it down. With technology today you can look up a word on dictionary.com, copy and past a definition to a blank document, then just print out your answer! Personally I can’t remember the last time I used a paper dictionary to look up a word. While this is only one example, it leads one to consider what it would be like not to have things like dictionaries or novels in anything but online form.

The expansion of technology may lead to difficult choices for taxpayers and governments to justify keeping libraries open. The convenience of being able to download a book easily on a handheld device may outweigh the task of going to a library, checking out a physical book, and taking it home (while having to worry about when to return it without overdo charges). As more and more books become digital in the future it is quite possible that it will become much less expensive to download novels that one needs. If schools can buy kindles for their students (with the students signing some sort of consent for care form) and buy one time books for these kindles, wouldn’t it be possible that in the future this could be cheaper than having to pay for librarians, books, furniture, building, electric, heat, etc to maintain libraries? Also, for all the kindle users out there, they can attest to the convenience of highlighting, making notes, and finding words on a kindle. Is it possible that these machines can replace the value of paperback binding? Maybe.

Is it really logical for devices like Kindle, Sony Readers, and Nooks to replace libraries? Is it possible to think that one day our private libraries will no longer contain volumes of leather bound books, but instead just three small metal devices? Probably not in the foreseeable future, but it is definitely something to consider. I hope that this will never be the case, but it could be possible that libraries will go the way of the sun dial, the dictionary, the horse and buggy, or many other technological devices.

Kindle VS. The Kansas City Library