Why Books, Why Libraries?

Anonymous's picture

The Vision 2020 Think Tank is taking shape. See the agenda at the website. We have attracted terrific resource people, with one to go. Science Fiction writers Bruce Sterling, Brenda Cooper and Louise Marley. Thinkers and writers Dr. Greg Raymond and David Kusek. I expect them to challenge us. Are you ready to be challenged?

Here is one thought to ponder. If you have kids in the age range of 2-20, watch them sometime. Watch how they access information. Watch how they multi-task. Ask what it means. This is the “digital native” generation, the first to grow up with computers, then with the Web. They are not like us.

I remember walking into the home office one evening when David, now 21, was in high school. I watched in amazement as he talked on a cell phone and a land-line phone simultaneously, while monitoring several instant message conversations on the net, fingers flying over the keyboard. This was just his background noise to accompany his homework, which he was also doing. I remember thinking that something is going on here. I am good with computers and the net, but nothing like this.

What will it mean for libraries in 2020 when the digital native generation is in the adult age bracket, while the next even more digital generation of kids follows? Just 15 years away.

Here are some clues, borrowed from a Blog called The Long Tail. It has to do with stats on the use of media:

  • Flat to Down to Way Down:
  • Music: sales last year were down 21% from their peak in 1999
  • Television: network TV's audience share has fallen by a third since 1985
  • Radio: listenership is at a 27-year low
  • Newspapers: circulation peaked in 1987, and the decline is accelerating
  • Magazines: total circulation peaked in 2000 and is now back to 1994 levels (but a few premier titles are bucking the trend!)
  • Books: sales growth is lagging the economy as whole


  • Movies: 2004 was another record year, both for theaters and DVDs
  • Videogames: even in the last year of this generation of consoles, sales hit a new record
  • Web: online ads will grow 30% this year, breaking $10 billion (5.4% of all advertising

What will survive? Why?

Glen Hiemstra
April 28, 2005

    Edit Szanto's picture

    My first stab at using the

    My first stab at using the futures blog…

    I am excited to be part of this. Just started reading the e-book published by EDUCAUSE: Educating the Net Generation. It is available online. It has great information for everyone involved in education, including libraries (not just academic, but public as well). Chapter 13 is dedicated for libraries.