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Will e-book barns replace libraries?

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TRADITIONALLY, academic library, which is a curated collection of sources of information and similar resources, selected by experts and made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing, have been viewed as central to information seeking and acquisition of knowledge in learning.

However, the internet which can be viewed as the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the internet protocol suite to link devices worldwide has become an alternative tool for students and the general public in information seeking and access due to its convenience and ease of use.

Research has shown that the popularity of using the internet by students in learning is challenging the existence of physical libraries. While the Library is the physical manifestation of the core values and activities of academic life for students’ engagement in learning, the internet on the other hand provides unlimited access to all manner of information that one cannot help but wonder if our librarians will still have jobs by the year 2023.

Airing his view on the possibility of the internet replacing the library, Nwakibie Vincent, a retired secondary school teacher said, “An increasing popularity of the internet over the library as a portal for information source, in information seeking poses threat to the existence of the traditional academic library.

Hence, it is important for the academic library to ‘rebrand’ itself to attract the users to use its services for academic learning and research. The internet is very much like television in that it takes time away from other pursuits, provides entertainment and information, but in no way can it be compared with the warm, personal experience of reading a good book.

This is not the only reason why the internet will never replace books, for books provide the in-depth knowledge of a subject that sitting in front of a computer monitor cannot provide. We can download texts from an internet source, but the aesthetic quality of sheets of downloaded texts leaves much to be desired.

A well-designed book enhances the reading experience. Again, the book is still the most compact and inexpensive means of conveying a dense amount of knowledge in a convenient package. The easy portability of the book is what makes it the most user-friendly format for knowledge ever invented”.

“Not only has the art and craft of printing and book manufacturing been greatly improved over the centuries, but the great variety of subject matter now available in books is astounding, to say the least.

In fact, the internet requires the constant input of authors and their books to provide it with the information that makes it a useful tool for exploration and learning.

Another important reason why the internet will never replace books is because those who wish to become writers want to see their works permanently published as books – something you can hold, see, feel, skim through, and read at one’s leisure without the need for an electric current. The writer may use a word processor instead of a typewriter or a pen and pad, but the finished product must eventually end up as a book if it is to have value to the reading public.

The writer may use the internet in the course of researching a subject just as he may use a library for that purpose, but the end product will still be a book. Books are also companions in a way that the internet can never be.

The author speaks to us directly through the pages. We hear his or her voice. If the story is compelling, it will become part of our own mentalities and provide us with an experience which we will have had through the author. One good book is one treasure of human beings.  Beside the author, a book is also the result of the corporation of many individuals.

They are people in the publishing house and printing house.  From books, we cannot only enrich our knowledge but also approach the human history.  Every book, in every field has the features of the period when it was written. These features are presented in the content, the title, the foreword and even the covering of the book.

That is not to say that the internet is any less than it is. The internet, as it continues to grow, is certainly one of the most remarkable technological developments in the history of mankind. Its ability to connect us all with the entire world is what makes it so extraordinary. But will the internet ever replace books? Not on your life.

Nwije Vivian, a Librarian also has this to say about internet replacing libraries: “Internet has grown up too much in this scientific era.  Whatever information we want, we press some buttons and boom! We get it.

But then, the internet cannot be a total substitute for the library, but can only serve as a search tool to be used in addition to the traditional source which is the library. In today’s scientific and technically developed era, values of books are neglected.

Books have always been human’s perfect companion.  The biggest advantage of books over internet is that it does not require any network or energy source to operate.  Imagine, you have to get some important information and it is very urgent, and imagine that at that time network becomes unavailable, at that moment, imagine the frustration.  But books have extreme advantage over internet on this point.

More so, the internet cannot give you complete information on anything as it consists of a small percentage of what is published. Search engines such as Google, AltaVista, Firefox and Yahoo access are limited.

The most reliable scholarly information is available in books and journals.  Preliminary steps to find the appropriate search terms should start with print indexes and subject headings volumes.  Again there is not a system that catalogs and organizes all resources on the internet.  A search on the internet is similar to searching an unclassified catalog.

When you use any of the search engines, you’re searching only part of the internet.  Searches are not always relevant to your topic and can cause a lot of wasted time, frustration and confusion”

“Again, although both internet and library may seem on the surface to serve the same purpose, the internet as it is will not replace libraries. There are many physical items that are not yet on the internet, although there may come a time when they will be.

I do not believe the internet is going to replace libraries. The internet cannot imitate the sense of community a library provides. I believe the way libraries are used will continue to change, and we are making every effort to prepare for those changes.

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