Well, doh. Of course libraries are important. What people are overlooking is that the reason libraries are having such fits dealing with a changing environment is not that libraries are unrecognized as fountains of value, it's that libraries are so valuable that they attract voracious new competition with every technological advance.One reader of the print version emailed me to complain about a too-far fantasy that I included:
Today, it's likely a teenager would get the same book from Project Gutenberg and read it on a smartphone without ever visiting a library.I checked with my resident teenager, and no, that would never happen. Teenagers don't read books on smartphones. For the most part, they don't have smartphones. (Though I suspect the answer might be different in Tokyo.) They do, however, do a lot of reading on screens. Teenagers have been reading on screens for years, and don't mind it. Those screens are not Kindles, however. I have yet to see any self-respecting teenager reading on a Kindle. The greatest adoption of Kindles has been reported be in the over 50 age group.
The Project Gutenberg bit is only half fantastical, at least with respect to Crime and Punishment. A teenager would have used the Wikisource version.
Comments on the article are welcome, either here or here.