Digital Libraries Vs. Traditional Libraries: What to Choose Today?

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The idea of digital libraries once replacing the traditional ones has been around since the very dawn of the digital age. Isn’t it more convenient and efficient to keep books in electronic format than to stick to old-fashioned physical libraries with their shelves, repositories and maddeningly complex filing systems? In this article, you’ll choose sides due to the information given to you. Besides, don’t forget to answer the quiz questions to know exactly which library (an online or traditional one) is the best option for you.

However, despite 10 great breakthroughs of 2018 in technology, traditional libraries are still around – the British Library in London, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the New York Public Library, the Bavarian State Library and many more which you can find in the list of 25 most famous libraries of the world. Although they don’t shy away from implementing some of the novelties into their structure and organization – all of them have quick access to the Internet. Well, why is it so? Is it going to keep that way? Just like in case with any other topic, making predictions is an ungrateful task, for the world is most likely to develop in the least predictable way – just like it always does. Let’s look at the ‘battle’ between digital and traditional libraries.

Round #1. Digital Library Vs. Traditional Library

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Of course, digital libraries are more convenient, cost-efficient and, truly speaking, less energy-consuming to use – you don’t have to go somewhere to find some valuable material, for example, to write a research paper. What do you usually do? You open Google, insert some words to find the necessary information and voila – the first search results are relevant to your topic. Right? But if we speak about academic writing, it isn’t always helpful to use the same information seeking strategy. Not all those online sources of information are quite reliable to refer to in an essay or term paper. Mind it! Even if you are used to doing so, check the source reliability on a first-priority basis and only then use it in your writing assignment. In these cases, it is better to use online search engines like Google Scholar to find scholarly literature. Alternatively, you can go to a local or university library and… spend hours to find what you are searching for. But you’ll find the printed copies of scientific articles containing highly informative data.

The first round is played – no sides! A digital library is a place which you can access any type of information quickly. On the other hand, because of the information overload, it may be difficult to find reliable information online which you could use in your essays or research papers like a dissertation or thesis. So you go to a library and what is the result? A huge amount of time planned for the other steps in writing a research paper is spent. As a result, it is time-consuming to attend traditional libraries, but it is more reliable. Go on reading the article to find out which library will win the ‘battle’!

Round #2. Digital Library Vs. Traditional Library

With the majority of the world’s population connected to the Internet, it is theoretically possible to create a single repository of all the books humanity has ever generated so that anybody can access any of them at any time – within 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. There are such valuable databases but are all they affordable? “Pay so-and-so much” is the first note after a short preview of a necessary article. Right? And let’s calculate how much time do you need to spend on writing a research paper that is usually based on 5-7 references. There is no guarantee that all of them are in an online database you are going to pay for. And what to do?

You can go to a traditional library and… you need to pay as well. As a rule, a library offers its users to apply for membership of a library. You need to provide all the necessary personal details (your name, address, date of birth), which are underpinned with certain official documents (passport or driver license). You can read more information on how to get a library card to do it right the first time. As we know that every minute is precious for a student, especially when writing a last-minute essay, we recommend you take the necessary documents not to return without the necessary data for your research paper.

Besides, be ready to pay either for library membership or the single use of library services. However, you should know about library fees and fines. For example, at the New York Public Library, a borrower who doesn’t return library materials on or before the due date is fined on average $1 per day for it. Mind it to save your money! Additionally, use a reminder on a phone to remember about all the important dates in your life – they can be paper submission dates or dates when you need to make bill payments.

The second round is played and what we have? There is the necessity to pay for library services both online and traditional ones. So it’s up to you which library is better for you. Don’t miss the last round between an online and traditional library so that you could make the final decision.

Round #3. Digital Library Vs. Traditional Library

The library system, which allows you to take a book for a period of time, doesn’t work well with digital texts. A digital book is not the same as a physical book – you cannot copy the latter without the great expense of time and money while copying the former takes less than a second. There are no limitations as to how many people can use a digital copy of the book. This means that traditional model, in which a writer writes, a publisher publishes and a reader buys and reads doesn’t apply well here. Hence all the problems with digital copyright, prosecution of those who share books and other digital items via the Internet and so on.

Humanity still cannot work out an effective way of solving this problem. Let’s imagine this worldwide library containing all books in existence and providing unlimited access to all of them free of charge. It may sound nice, but what is the motivation to write new books if the author doesn’t get anything out of it? Until this problem is solved we will have to work with what we have now: traditional libraries with physical copies of the books and limited access to digital texts, paid access to books online and illegal e-text libraries.

However, we all probably understand that traditional libraries slowly but steadily become the things of the past. Even now a library is not what it was a couple of decades ago, let alone fifty years or more. Any big library contains video and audio materials, access to the Internet and digital texts, utilizes electronic cataloging systems and so on. It is only a matter of time before humanity thinks of an effective way to use digital libraries that would sit well with both readers and writers. The physical book will sooner or later become a rarity, for it is inconvenient to use, store and carry about.

Eventually, it is highly possible that digital libraries will replace traditional ones in course of time. We just don’t know what they will be like. We’ll see how it goes! In the meantime, answer 7 questions to know what type of library can help you right now.

A ‘Library Choice’ Quiz: Which Library to Choose to Study Well?

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  1. Used to reading online and via ebook?
  2. Need quick access to books, journals, and other publications?
  3. Have no time to go to a library?
  4. Prefer listening instead of reading?
  5. Need up-to-date information?
  6. Feel more comfortable at home?
  7. Often look for the material to learn?

If most of your answers are “yes”, feel free to use a digital online instead of a traditional one. As for the question, “Prefer listening instead of reading?”, there is such a useful feature as a text-to-speech (TTS) option available to you either on Google, Microsoft or Adobe Reader. Just activate it to take advantage of listening to the found information.

On the other hand, don’t pass up an opportunity to visit such a peaceful place as a library with its cozy atmosphere stimulating to focus on your work – be it writing or reading. Make progress in the studies as you like, but don’t ignore all the practical tips on how to do it properly.

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