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Digital Library vs. Traditional Library: Should You Really Choose?

Laptop and Book

The invention of script revolutionized the history of our world and changed its destiny forever. For many years scientists have been searching for the real origins of script and trying to understand how it spread across the globe. It is another question whether their hypotheses and achievements have brought them closer to the truth or not. However, it is absolutely clear that systems of hieroglyphs and alphabets naturally forced the mankind to make one more step higher.

The ability to write advanced the process of transmitting knowledge and experience from generation to generation, and caused the necessity to create something more convenient to store that knowledge and experience. So appeared the first book. The history of the western book took a new turn after Johannes Guttenberg invented the printing press circa 1440. However, the Chinese civilization could boast of this invention centuries earlier, so the first book might have appeared in the East and might have been a thousand year older than its relative in Europe.

Digital technologies only started to develop in the middle of the last century. As we can see, it took considerably less timeDigital World for them than for script and printing to spread around the world. There is no need to describe all beauties of the innovations brought by these technologies into our lives. But at the same time, the discussions about whether they can replace some of their traditional physical counterparts are not going to fade away. Books and press have become probably the hottest subject of such debates, and hence either have libraries.

Digital Library: Is There Anything Wrong About It?


Today it is quite difficult to wonder a young person with technology novelties. The convenience and speed of getting the info and even the product needed have become norms or standards which determines the quality of the digital world. The first library, known as ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), was “built” in it in 1966. Since 1980s online catalogs and then libraries have become more popular, and the World Wide Web has gradually turned into an enormous archive, storing billions of various materials. So, what do these libraries feature?

Direct and Round-The-Clock Access

All you need is to check the Internet connection at the place where you are going to google the books or articles you need. Online library is open 24/7, so you can access to it any time you want and can, and work with materials as long as you need.

Simplicity of Searching for Materials

If you want to find a particular book or article but do not remember its title or the name of its author, or both, Google and any other search engine will understand what you need better and faster.

Plus Video and Audio Materials

Some of the most advanced digital libraries can offer their users not only text files, but also video and audio materials dedicated to the topic searched. So, an online library will automatically provide you with additional useful info.

Convenience of Using Materials

If you are quoting a digital document, you can simply copy and paste the line you need, without wasting your time to type it. If such digital article or book is written in a foreign language, it is much easier to translate it.

However, there should be the other side of this coin.

Insufficient Protection of User’s and Library’s Data

Online library’s database can be hacked more easily than that of the Pentagon, for example. That is why, unfortunately, personal data of library’s visitors and files may be used by third parties illegally.

Not Everything Has Its Digital Copy

Despite the fact that today the WWW boasts of making a lot of materials available for users, still there are some rare editions or dissertations defended just recently and other paper sources which have not been digitized yet.

Lack of Clear Standards for Citation and Reference

If at least once you faced the necessity to cite an online resource and make the corresponding reference, you definitely know that there are no clear standards for doing this. Paradoxically, your reference may be considered wrong, while no one can say for sure which one should be considered right.

Higher Probability to Come Across Invalid Materials

Not everything on the Net is worth attention. Of course, when you are working with a digital copy of a famous book, recommended by your professor, you can be confident about the information in it. However, it is worth checking validity of or references to some other materials.

Traditional Library: Why Will It Never Disappear?


Don’t you think that if physical libraries really did not fulfill their functions so well, all around the world they would have been closed in the very beginning of the 21st century, that is at the dawn of the Digital Era. Paper books would have not been sold in beautiful stores and resold at garage sales. However, for some reasons that all did not happen. University and public libraries still welcome students and their professors, world-famous scientists and tourists. Where is the magic concealed?

You Come, You Ask, You Get

In the traditional library you do not need to look for the book yourself. There is a person who will do it for you or at least tell you where exactly you can find it. There are no problems with registration and downloading.

Your Laptop is Safe

When you download files from the Internet, they may contain viruses which will do serious damage to your laptop or computer. When you are working with the document in the library, you do not face such problem.

There Is a Specialist Who Can Help You

Returning to the person who you can ask for help, it should be mentioned once again that they can provide you with many more materials, related to the topic of your research. Again, you do not have to spend your time on looking for these materials.

Modern Physical Library Is a Hybrid

Most if not all physical libraries today are considered the so-called hybrid libraries. It means that they combine both digital and paper services.

Yet, the tradition yields to the novelty. What is the point?

Your Time Is Limited

Traditional libraries open and close at certain time. Besides, they are usually closed on the weekend. So, you should plan your time carefully if you want to visit them.

Most Materials Cannot Be Taken Home

What is more, sometimes it is not allowed to copy or take photos of books and articles you work with. If you need this document, you should come the following day and order it again.

There Are Only X Copies and All of Them Are Borrowed

This situation is easy to imagine. You need a rare book badly. You come to the library to find out that someone has already borrowed it. If you are lucky, you will find that person and cooperate with them somehow. But it is still inconvenient for both of you.

Plus Geographical Factor

You are unlikely to go to the Harvard library if you do not study at Harvard. However, it may have that very dissertation you need.

So What Is the Solution?

Today we still cannot deny the fact that we do not need traditional libraries at all. At the same time, functionality of their digital versions perfectly corresponds with the needs a person and especially a student of the 21st century has. So, both traditional and digital libraries have the right to exist. Your choice should depend on your personal conditions, requirements and the results you expect to get.

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