This week I wanted to write a little bit about libraries in general. Like many things today, libraries are easily decried as out-of-date relics. Librarianship has no lack of people to prophesy doom in the future. And yet, sometimes the trends might surprise you. Take, for example, a recent Washington Post story, reporting that for serious reading, younger generations prefer printed books to e-reader text.
The preference for print over digital can be found at independent bookstores such as the Curious Iguana in downtown Frederick, Md., where owner Marlene England said millennials regularly tell her they prefer print because it’s “easier to follow stories.” Pew studies show the highest print readership rates are among those ages 18 to 29, and the same age group is still using public libraries in large numbers.
Michael S. Rosenwald, The Washington Post, “Why digital natives prefer reading in print. Yes, you read that right.” February 22, 2015. Accessed March 3, 2015.
The nature of the book lends itself to greater comprehension. It’s likely no accident: screens and monitors have existed a paltry 80 years compared to the thousands of years of human reading and writing. I’m not terribly surprised that digital natives are rediscovering the value of printed books.
Over the past 100 years, libraries have transformed from restrictive repositories of information to open-access spaces for exploration and study. The NSLM Main Reading Room is designed for comfort while reading.
I’ve seen quite a few visitors come to the Library over the past year to enjoy the Main Reading Room, even if they weren’t reading books. The addition of wireless internet access has made it an ideal space to study and conduct research projects.
The Main Reading Room holds more than just books. Paintings, prints, sculptures, and framed flies decorate the space. I think the room expresses a warm, at-home feeling. I hope to see you in the Main Reading Room soon!