Digital Books to Replace Libraries?

Henry F. Schricker Library

What’s the future of libraries in the digital age? We posed that question recently to Shelia Urwiler, Director of the Starke County Library system.

“E-books are changing the library landscape quite a bit and no one is one hundred percent sure how that’s going to work out,” said Urwiler. “We do know that we are going to transition more to e-books and less print eventually. I heard a speaker say that he thinks it will be in the next two to three years – I think that’s a little overestimating. I think we’re looking more at 15 to 20 before print really is more for special collections and archives.”

Roberta Stevens, President of the American Library Association, wants more publishing companies to get involved in the conversation because at the moment some publishers aren’t even willing to sell e-books to libraries. But Urwiler said the Starke County Library is planning to add them as soon as possible.

“Our library is planning to get e-books this coming spring. We don’t have a firm date yet. We’re hoping either February or May but it depends on how we get our computer systems set up.”

Urwiler was asked if she thinks print is going away.

“I see it as a chance to enhance the library. I really don’t see print going away. I think most of us love having a book in our hands and I see there will always be a place for print. Not everything will be digital. Older books won’t be, a lot of non-fiction is not available that way and it never will I think.”

Whatever happens, it’s probably going to happen rapidly, and it will be interesting to see how libraries adjust to the reality of e-books.