The Rise Of Digital Vending Libraries

Faced with budget cuts, authorities are embracing new technologies that can replace physical libraries and human employees.

The Wall Street Journal reports on new technologies that are replacing traditional libraries with book vending machines and computer-operated lockers. Many of the libraries in the US are faced with budget cuts and are going the digital route, which means no librarians and no card catalogs, only kiosks that dispense books and DVDs at any time of the day, thereby cutting back on infrastructure and staff costs.

But some experts are concerned with machines replacing real institutions and people. The Wall Street Journal explains:

Some library directors worry that such machines are the first step toward a future in which the physical library—along with its reference staffs and children’s programs—fades from existence. James Lund, director of the Red Wing Public Library in Red Wing, Minn., recently wrote skeptically about the “vending library” in Library Journal, a trade publication.

“The basis of the vending machine is to reduce the library to a public-book locker,” Mr. Lund said in an interview. “Our real mission is public education and public education can’t be done from a vending machine. It takes educators, it takes people, it takes interaction.”

Wall Street Journal: “New Library Technologies Dispense With Librarians”

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