With bookstores gradually on the way out in the digital age, libraries are increasingly finding themselves in the new role of bookstores themselves. More and more libraries are changing their renovation plans. They are limiting additional shelf space to add more titles to their already existing collection, and earmarking a separate section that will be dedicated to sell off some of their collection to those eager to buy them at a discounted price. Libraries will absorb the proceeds to be used for other developmental activities. In fact, libraries are into a sort of makeover phase and are re-inventing themselves as stores with the members being seen as customers.
As Jason Kuhl, the executive director of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library puts it, “A library has limited shelf space, so you almost have to think of it as a store, and stock it with the things that people want.”
This again is being seen as a positive development as all of these changes are expected to bring in more footfall at the libraries, something that presents a desirable scenario for the librarians.
Libraries often have to stock multiple copies of best sellers when they are in demand to be able to satisfy more number of patrons though the multiple copies become redundant once they go out of favor in a year or two. These along with the usual practice of libraries to ‘weed’ out some of their stocks that they believe they can do without also earns them resources that has become vital in the age of depressed economic situation.
With the emergence of ebooks and corresponding ebook reading devices, libraries around the world are slowly adopting themselves to the changed situation. While ebooks right now make up no more than just 2 percent of their total collection in some of the biggest libraries in the world, they have already shown their eagerness to adopt to the new emerging technology, something that they believe is akin to their basic survival itself. As such, libraries are seen lending out print versions of books along with ebooks or even e-book reading devices such as the Kindle loaded with the e-books that the patron may have opted for.
Now with them adopting the bookstore model, it brings up another new dimension to the libraries hitherto unheard of any time before. From the booklovers point of view, while ebooks are sure to continue its acceptance in far greater numbers in future, the print versions continues to enjoy a loyal consumer base. For them, visiting a bookstore is always a pleasureable experience, what with getting to feel the book first hand while the joy of hitting upon an entirely new books that might have been least expected is unparalled. What is even more encouraging for the libraries adopting the new model is that such efforts of selling off a a part of their collection is indeed reaping benefits.