The trend is that publishers sell e-books in half price of traditional printed books, while e-books could be read on Kindle, iPad, iPhone, and your PC. I can’t help but wonder how this would affect the operation and service of our public libraries I visit so often.
Libraries usually allow us to borrow maximum 2 of their books every time for 14 days, such borrow can be extended for 1 time only, and the books will be on the shelf again so that everyone will have a chance to read them. Some popular books may have 2 copies for public good. However, as old and new books can all be digitalized, saved in library servers and accessed by citizens anytime anywhere (home, office, on the train!) through internet, such physical limitation is longer valid. The library buys one copy of e-books, everyone could simultaneously refer to ALL books owned by the library, 24/7, without geographical concerns (even if you are overseas), lending time period limitation should be infinity if the library policy allows.
Here comes the problem.
How can we protect the interests of the book writers and publishers, when technically everyone in the city could never-been-so-easily read all books without the need to purchase? The whole country needs only one copy and the customer is the government. Not to say if all libraries in the whole world may one day be linked together to share their collections. Time for brainstorming.
And, do we still need a library building open to public?
As I am sitting in a library, thinking about these matters, I can’t help but feeling sad about the possibility of shutting down libraries.
Listening to the gentle flipping sound of newspapers and magazines, sunlight shines in the reading room through the big glass window. Cool and quiet, I see summer breezes brush through long-lived trees’ glossy leaves outside the library which branches softly swing along. Some leaves fall, so as the blossomed flowers and the pink juicy fruits. Warm patches of golden rays appeared on the scrambled grasses; plain strong walls are being decorated by the shadows of the old-fashioned opened windows. I’m sleepy out of the relaxing air, struggling to read or to fall asleep.
I walk to the shelves, just anyone of them. All books welcome me to open them, honestly, genuinely. Every book I flip open becomes a little adventure. I’m thrilled to pick up an old, thick English literature book of Jane Austen, and can smell the old perfume of an aged piece of art. The yellowish edges of each page are just telling me how precious it is that it’s being well-kept for anyone’s references.
I remember myself once going to library to look at Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” which was mentioned in the movie “The Lake House” showed on TV. “It’s about ‘waiting’.” Sandra Bullock told Keanu Reeves. Flipping to the last page where borrow slip was, the blue blurry date chop showed that another person had come to borrow it the next day movie shown on TV. Suddenly, I smile about feeling a connection with that person who shared the same interest that I have. I do want to know him/her.
The Philosophy books’ wise words get into my soul, I’m stunned. Any books like Garden Landscape, Architecture, Picaso, or huge dictionaries are all there to feed your curiosity. You may not be able to afford them, but they are all there for you.
Lighting and air-conditioning are purposely set just right for reading, also the clean chairs and spacious tables. Everyone’s quiet. Genius at work. Time seems doesn’t exist but passes by so quickly.
I enjoy this uninterrupted solitude while having the company of others. Its ambiance is its beauty.
Most of all, it’s free of charge. Anyone can come in, to get the information and knowledge, instead of staying idle outside the walls of libraries. Once they get in a library, they own a purpose of life and they explore their possibilities.
It’s the virtue.