Digital Libraries

Earlier this month a new library opened in Bexar County, Texas. This library is the first of its kind: a public library that is completely digital. It is filled with computers and e-readers instead of books. It essentially functions much like a regular library. People are allowed to check out books, but obviously they are all e-books. For people that do not have e-readers, they can get borrow e-readers or use the ones at the library.

I have mixed feelings about this kind of library. It’s really cool to have instant access to a large selection of books, but it seems weird to imagine a library without real books. I like perusing the aisles in the library. I’ve discovered good books by doing so that I never would have noticed otherwise. It’s just not the same perusing books online.

It will be interesting to see how well this library does. A lot of people, myself included, have adapted quite well to e-books and e-readers. But many people out there are book purists, and they believe the only way to read a book is to hold it in their hands. My guess would be that this library would do just as well as any other. It may lose some patrons who only want to read real books. In the long run, it’s doubtful it would gain extremely large numbers of new patrons. People who are not readers won’t be interested just because it’s 100% digital now. There may be an increase in patrons at first until the novelty of it wears off. Unless this library fails miserably, which isn’t likely, I doubt this type of library will remain the only one of its kind for long.

Video Games and Libraries

The idea of having video games in libraries seemed bizarre to me. Then I gave it some thought and realized it’s not such a bad idea. A library with a wide variety of media items will probably draw a larger amount of patrons. It might encourage some people to pick up a book if they walk by them on their way to the video game section.

Although the media typically depicts video games as being the root of all evil, they can do just as much good as bad. Yes, that’s right! Video games can have benefits. For one thing, they can be educational, and for another, they can teach prosocial behavior. Saleem, Anderson, and Gentile (2012) indicated in their study that prosocial behavior occurred more often after games with prosocial behavior were played. Their study showed that the inverse is also true: violent games are more likely to produce aggressive behavior. There are some games that produce neither negative or positive behavior. So not all games are bad or good, but they might still be entertaining.

In light of this study and others like it, providing educational and prosocial video games would be great for those who can’t afford them. My kids have used educational video games and loved them. They were having so much fun that they didn’t realize they were learning at the same time. It would be good for libraries to have games that kids think are fun whether they are educational or not. There is nothing wrong with doing something just for fun.

Saleem, M., Anderson, C. A., & Gentile, D. A. (2012). Effects of prosocial, neutral, and violent video games on children’s helpful and hurtful behaviors. Aggressive Behavior, 38(4), 281-287. doi:10.1002/ab.21428

Here are a few games I think would be good for libraries to have:

Wii Sports

Platform: Wii

This game is fun and gets people to move around some. It’s a good to play when there are multiple players.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn (2010)

Platform: Wii

This game is awesome for young kids. Essentially they can’t die in the game. Technically they can, but they are immediately brought back to life from the spot where they died. This avoided a lot of frustration for my kids. Plus the game is fun.

Team Umizoomi (2011)

Platform: Nintendo DS

This is a fun game for kids which is also educational. This is probably best for preschoolers.

The Importance of Libraries

One of the best things about libraries is that they are all unique. Each one has a different selection. Some libraries offer media other than books such as ebooks, dvds, and cds. Many libraries have rare books and records that are specifically about that town or local area. For historians and genealogists, this type of information can invaluable especially since it is not likely to be on the internet.

Libraries have a unique place in this society. It’s not often that people, young or old, have a place to go to educate themselves and/or for entertainment. The best part of all of this is that it’s free. Many people especially in this poor economy do not have the money for the services libraries offer. A lot of people go to libraries to use computers and to have access to the internet. This may not matter to some people, but to others it can greatly enhance their lives.