Monday, October 25, 2010

WSJ: Are "Robo-Libraries" Part of the Future?

Across the country, vendor machines are appearing where people can borrow DVDs and books at their own convenience. They order them online and pick them up at local vendor machines and kiosks (similar to Netflix and Libraries save money on labor and expand their reach to communities, especially during off-hours.

However, some librarians worry that these new technologies may fade public libraries out of existence:
Some library directors worry that such machines are the first step toward a future in which the physical library—along with its reference staffs and children's programs—fades from existence. James Lund, director of the Red Wing Public Library in Red Wing, Minn., recently wrote skeptically about the "vending library" in Library Journal, a trade publication.

"The basis of the vending machine is to reduce the library to a public-book locker," Mr. Lund said in an interview. "Our real mission is public education and public education can't be done from a vending machine. It takes educators, it takes people, it takes interaction."

Despite their growing popularity, do you think these "robo-libraries" will replace brick-and-mortar public libraries?

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