I spoke to a local Rotary club recently on topic of – Google vs. the Library: Research & Collaboration in the 21st Century. The group wanted to know if Google and the Internet would be putting our libraries out of business. My answer? Yes and No (see the link above for more details).
Yes, Google and the internet (specifically Wikipedia) have already put libraries out of the business of providing basic reference material.
No, Google and the internet will not put libraries out of the business of lending books in the short run. More importantly, Libraries for the foreseeable future will the the primary conduit for most people to access high quality and expensive research databases like Pub Med and other walled off online journals.
One interesting factoid from the presentation: The Encyclopedia Britannica contains about 100,000 articles and costs over $1,000 for a set of books. Wikipedia has over 3,000,000 articles and is completely free. Wikipedia is 30 times larger than Britannica, and is widening it’s lead on a daily basis.
For now the Goliath vs. David battle is a draw 😉