What’s Happening at Your Local Library: The Answers May Shock You…

Libraries in 2016: Irrelevant, or not irrelevant just yet?

By Olivia W. McCoy, University of Georgia


With the exception of grandmas like me that can’t figure it out, the age of technology that has dawned upon us is nothing less than a blessing.

If people from a few centuries ago saw us now, reaching into our pockets and pulling devices that have everything a young, inspiring college kid could ever want to see—bus schedules, Spark Notes, the Kendra Sunderland Oregon State University porn video—we’d be burned at the stake.

On top of smartphones, we have computers, tablets, kindles and whatever else scientists can create by imbuing a few metals and wires with what I assume is the magic and intellect of a divine being. So that leaves only one question: What are libraries good for now that everything is online?

First, I have a confession. I tricked you into clicking this article by making you think it’d be about another media sex scandal. I apologize for the deceit, but you made the assumption and you know what those make. So you might as well continue to read in an effort to redeem yourself.

What Do Students Still Do in Libraries?

If it makes you feel any better, I was expecting/hoping to pull up a whole lot of articles and police reports on discreditable misconduct as well. But aside from a few quips on some audit issues, the obvious Oregon State drama from last January (which, by the way, is all over the web—porn sites and academia resources alike) and a ghost story promising romance, horror, murder and everything else under the sun, I came up short.

So my next step was to actually visit my main school library. Walking in, I was immediately hit with a wave of knowledge, intellect, passion and wisdom—or at least I feel like I should’ve been. But it’s just a library like any other.

My first stop was to the front desk to prompt employees for their experiences here, to see whether there was anything worth marking down. Yes, I was fishing for gossip. I was briefly intrigued by a possible lead on lude behavior in the mid 1990s, but it ended up a frustratingly empty tease.

I left, disappointed and empty-handed, and it seemed like the only thing to do was sit and observe for myself.

And let me tell you: It. Was. Dull.

After fifteen minutes of watching fellow students type away at their laptops and fall asleep at the desks, I had to explore—if only to keep myself awake. Here’s a few things I noticed.

1. Libraries Are the Best Learning Centers

Any college kid will know what I’m talking about when I mention the study hall building. It’s the single most visited building on campus; but, did you notice any similarities between it and another state funded structure?

With its cement walls, panopticon scrutiny, sub-freezing temperatures and forced silence doesn’t it almost remind you of—dare I say—a prison? The small cubicles reek of regret, the stress in the air is tangible and even the lighting is timed!

Granted they’re motion sensors, but being adolescents, inhabitants are too lazy to be bothered with moving more than an inch every half hour, so students are thus reduced to using the glow of their smart phones for light. It’s tragic really.

If nothing else, at least the library is satisfactorily warm in mood and temperature, and inviting with its multiple floors of overstuffed couches and armchairs. Open floor plan, no cramped worry or the feeling you’re constantly being watched and judged—it’s beautiful.

Did you guys know about this? Why didn’t anyone tell me??

2. Nap Nirvana

How many times have you heard fellow scholars facetiously complain about not taking advantage of kindergarten naptime when they had the chance? Ten? Twenty? Somewhere in the thousands?

Well, now you know that they’ve never been to the school library. These places have perfectly adapted to our needs as a broke, overworked, desperate population.

Beanbags, sofas, cozy temperatures, soft lighting, quiet, peace—they might as well hand us pillows and warm milk the moment we come in those sliding doors.

And the best part? NO ONE CARES. It’s quite literally an invitation, not that we’d need one right?

3. Modern Libraries

I remember going into the public library as a kid and being overwhelmed by the number of books on the intimidatingly large shelves towering over me everywhere I turned. But in the libraries I’ve visited in the past week, this isn’t the case anymore.

I mean, there are books, yes. But they’re lined up against the walls, and the rest of the space is comfortable seating and desks. Most of the floors aren’t even for books anymore!

Most stories (just a little book humor for you) are filled with groupings of computer monitors and printers for public use.

They’re not even the ancient, blacksmith patented desktops that existed in the old days.

There’s even an entire level dedicated to checking out digital media. Although I’ll admit their DVD collection is limited and the titles they do have tend to be outdated, but that’s what Netflix is for, right?

4. Food

Need I say more?

There are NEVER too many places to get food. With the built in cafeteria style café my bibliothèque has, there’s never a reason to leave.

It’s perfect! Free rent (if you’re not including the grand resources fee you’re paying with tuition), food, Wi-Fi and sleep—when can I move in?

And so the bibliophile species will live on another couple decades, and who knows what the future may bring? Maybe we’ll eventually get to the point where it’s socially acceptable to live there—although overpopulation and building codes may be a risk involved there. But a girl can dream right?