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Libraries are some of the most important components in any particular learning environment because of the vital information they store and how they readily provide it when needed. As a result, the coming of information technology age proved to be an important that saw the transformation of libraries. Following this, the current generation depends heavily on data and information that is stored electronically. Essentially, the dependence on traditional libraries is diminishing, with most people depending on e-library to store as well as access information in books, journals, magazines, etc. One of the questions that have emerged in the recent times is whether the traditional libraries are still of value in this technological age. To answer this question, it is important to look at two facets of traditional libraries. These would include but not limited to the advantages and disadvantages of traditional in the contemporary world as well as the role that these libraries play in the society that is marred by technological inventions.
To begin with, whereas most learners and library users in general disregard traditional libraries in favor of digital libraries, their argument for favoring the latter as opposed to the former is based on key features that are supported by the digital library. In line with this, since digital libraries are supported heavily by technological inventions, most users opt to use them rather than using traditional libraries. However, research that has been carried out in the past indicates that traditional library has the most sophisticated feature: the librarian. Notably, there is no single digital library that exists today that has a librarian. According to Krottmaier (2002), the role of librarians is often underestimated by most of the users despite the fact that they are very helpful, especially for young scientists who are trying to explore a new topic (p. 254). Notably, the availability of the librarian to guide researchers and scholars, especially those who are new in the field is a very important aspect that elevate the importance or rather value of traditional libraries in the contemporary technological world.
Apart from the availability of the librarian, traditional libraries also have old information and data that is still relevant in the contemporary society. In line with this, whereas effort has been made to digitalize most books, journals, magazines and other reading resources from the past that generally that contribute to learning in the modern society, there is still a lot to be done. Stated in other words, only a section of these materials have been digitalized. In line with this, the traditional library is an important storage facility of ancient materials in the current society.
Furthermore, traditional libraries index quality publications for easy accessibility. In this regard, information in the library is stored according to its quality. This, when combined with the librarian form an important part in the research process. Amazingly, whereas most people in the current society depend heavily on the digital library, the publications that are accessed to in these libraries are based on key words that are typed by the user in the search engine rather than on quality of the publication. This is coupled by large number of results that are difficult to choose from while other are only accessible by subscribing at a fee. In reference to Krottmaier (2002), the big problem with common search engines: they index freely available resources, not high quality publications which are often available only to subscribers of the corresponding journals (p. 254). Note that traditional libraries use an organization pattern that makes it easier to trace reading materials from different topics of interest to the reader or rather user.
On the other hand, there are various factors that degrade the value of traditional libraries in the contemporary world. To begin with, whereas the arrangement of reading resources in traditional libraries allows for easy accessibility, searching for information and data in these resources is a difficult task. Arms (2001) argues that paper documents are convenient to read, but finding information stored on paper can be difficult (p. 5). As such, the value of traditional library is diminished when considering the situation where information is needed quickly by researchers and scholars as well as other users of these resources.
Furthermore, updating traditional libraries is a difficult task. Note that most reading resources or rather publications in traditional libraries are published and updated only after a certain period of time. For instance, if a new discovery emerged today on the market, any author who had written about a similar innovation cannot update his or her published work (in form of hard copies) within a short time. On the contrary, publishing such work may take a month, or even a whole year before an updated print is released into the market. According to Arms (2001), printed materials are awkward to update since the entire document must be reprinted and all copies of the old version must be tracked down and replaced (p. 5). This has led to the depreciation of value of traditional libraries.
With this in mind, the argument on whether traditional libraries are still of value in the technological age depend on the specific aspects of a library that one is looking for. From one end of the argument, the ability to store ancient information as well as the organization of reading resources in traditional libraries for easy accessibility proves that these libraries are still of value in this technological age. This is coupled by the availability of the librarian. On the other hand, the limitations of the traditional library in terms of updating information, as well the inability to easily retrieve information from accessed resources contributes to the deterioration of their value in this technological age.