June 27, 2012 9:40:36 AM
Public libraries serve many functions.
One of those functions, symbolic in nature, is to uphold the traditions and history of its community.
For older generations, there is something almost reverential about a library, particularly an old library. It provides a link from present to past. For book lovers, libraries are a comforting place.
Since it was built in the 1970s, the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library has been the repository for the historical and genealogical history of the county.
Given that role as defender of tradition and keeper of history, libraries have not always on the cutting edge of technology. In fact, libraries are often portrayed as the last line of defense when new technology emerges that threatens the time-honored way of doing things.
It is true, to varying degrees, where ever libraries exist. When the Internet emerged, libraries were reluctant to embrace the new technology. The arrival of e-books certainly was viewed as a threat to the traditional medium.
For many, the tactile qualities that a book provides cannot be duplicated electronically. Much like it is with some newspaper readers, book lovers find that there is something comforting, something solid and tangible and redeeming about holding a real book in your hands.
And yet, the increasing popularity of e-books through a multitude of e-reader devices -- Kindle, Nook, iPad -- has ushered in a new group of book lovers. For them, the obvious conveniences of e-readers is far more valuable than any esoteric or nostalgic appeal of the traditional book.
For that reason, we applaud the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library for bridging the gap between book-loving traditionalists and their "wired'' kindred spirits by using a $10,000 grant to establish an e-book program of its own.
Under this program, readers can check out e-books from the library. In many respects, the process is just like the one that applies to regular books: Readers choose a title and check it out for a pre-determined period of time. In the case of the e-books, readers have access to the book for 30 days. After that, the book is no longer available. By virtue of that, e-book readers never have to worry about over-due book fees. Nor do they have to worry about getting to the library before closing time. With e-books, the library is always open. The conveniences are obvious.
Rather than turn up its nose at the e-reader crowd, the Columbus-Lowndes Library is embracing readers by providing its patrons with another reading platform.
At a time in which the English language threatens to be reduced to a series of text-message acronyms, book lovers of all kinds should be cherished and catered to.
The Columbus-Lowndes Library is doing its part.