How good librarians have made themselves obsolete to some users

01 Aug 2016

There is a growing discussion about the role of libraries in Africa and how the internet may threaten their continued existence.I am among those who no longer uses libraries to do my work as a researcher and academic. This journey started 20 years ago and was one I embarked on thanks to the hard work of good librarians whose innovations convinced me I?d do just fine without them.This is not to suggest that other people should not use the library. On the contrary: free public libraries, like symphony orchestras, are essential elements of civilisation and it is our duty as taxpayers to support them to the hilt. Libraries are warm, dry and safe spaces with free internet, which many people need. They play a critical and well-documented role in under-resourced communities Libraries have always been safe, intellectual spaces and spaces for exploration. I like my colleague Lara Skelly?s suggestions about how they could innovate to hold that position. But 20 years ago I discovered the internet and everything changed.