A new library in Tianjin – Tianjin Binhai Public Library – recently became an online hit. The Daily Mail described it as the “world’s ultimate library”, while the word “breathtaking” was the choice of Newsweek magazine. One look at the library and you’ll see why. With its futuristic design and walls loaded with books, it’s the dream library of every book lover.
Inside the new Tianjin Binhai Public Library, which became an online hit due to its futuristic design. CFP
天津的一座新图书馆 —— 天津滨海图书馆 —— 最近成为了网红。英国《每日邮报》称其为“世界终极图书馆”，而美国《新闻周刊》则选用了“惊艳”一词（来形容它）。看一眼这座图书馆你就会明白为什么会这么说了。未来主义的设计以及摆满书的书墙令其成为了每位书迷梦想中的图书馆。
But as the awe continues, there’s a burning question lying in the back of our minds: When physical bookstores are closing down one by one, what makes libraries immune from the wave of digitalization? And do we really still need libraries now we’ve got the internet in our hands?
Reporter Ian Clark has the answer. “Libraries are not declining in importance – people are simply changing the way they use them,” he wrote on the Guardian website.
记者伊安·克拉克有了答案。“图书馆的重要性并没有被削弱 —— 人们只是改变了利用图书馆的方式罢了，”他在《卫报》网站上写道。
What Clark means is that libraries have shifted from simply being storehouses of books to a medium to help “bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots”, according to website Libraries Are Essential. Since not everyone can afford a smartphone, a tablet or an internet connection, and not everyone has the know-how to search the internet correctly and efficiently, it’s public libraries that make sure that these resources and technologies are available to a larger group of people.
Libraries Are Essential 网站认为，克拉克的意思是图书馆已经从书目的储藏库变为了一种媒介，有助于“缩小富人和穷人之间的差距”。并非每个人都能买得起智能手机、平板电脑或者能够上网，也不是所有人都会正确而高效地上网搜索，而公共图书馆确保了更多人能够获得这些资源和技术。
And one of the pitfalls that come with online materials is that they’re not always reliable. “Google doesn’t tell you what you’re not getting, so people need to evaluate the quality and completeness of what they see on their screens,” Sarah Pritchard, dean of libraries at Northwestern University, told Northwestern Research Magazine. And libraries are usually where that “evaluation” happens.
But all of these practical functions aside, we still need the physical space that a library provides. It’s something that’s called a “third place”, according to the Seattle Times. This is a place in which we can fully concentrate on our study and work without easily getting distracted.
And compared to other “third places” like coffee shops, libraries have a “non-commercial nature” that allows you to relax completely.
“Nobody is trying to sell you anything in the library. There is no pressure to buy and there is no judgment of your choices,” Anne Goulding, a professor at Victoria University in New Zealand, wrote on the Newsroom website.
“There are few other spaces that you can just ‘be’ without somebody questioning your presence or your motivation.”