Sophia Charyna

In a course titled “The History and Future of the Book,” we have discussed the humble beginnings of language, writing, and the literary canon. In the remainder of this course, we will continue to explore what the future of the book looks like. Evidently, the digitization of books and scholarship has a remarkable impact on the publication, distribution, and borrowing of books and other materials.

Figure 1. From

When was the last time you went to a Public Library? As an English major, it’s a little embarrassing to say that I don’t remember the last time I did.

Also, embarrassing was my (until recent) belief in the stereotype “dying libraries.” English majors often encounter the constant questions of post-degree careers: “What are you going to do with that degree,” “teach English?”, “Work in a library? That’s not a career that’s going to last!” In an article written by an American librarian Kelli Cross, she accounts: “Public libraries have been busy. And getting busier. Per research conducted by the American Library Association, ‘in 2013, there were 1.5 billion in-person visits to public libraries across the U.S., the equivalent of more than 4 million visits each day. That’s 2,854 per minute’” (Cross). Due to the continuous evolution of libraries to suit the requirements and requests of the community they serve, they continue to have a patronage. Living within is a privileged group, I believe it is often easy to forget that the services offered by public libraries are essential to some intersectional groups of our city.

Figure 2. Beginner books, from

As a beginning reader, I wanted to read as much as possible, but my skill level and age kept me constrained to short books that were interesting to me. It didn’t make sense for my parents to buy every book that I read (I’d only read them once!). Having access to a public library provided me with a world of information, what felt like an endless supply of books, and the freedom to explore what I was interested in. For a long time, this was primarily children’s fiction that included magic, dragons, or preferably, both. Having this access, along with encouragement from my parents and teachers, made me a lifelong reader, and lover of books (which explains my choice of major).

Reflecting on the time the I spent in the library in my hometown with extremely positive memories — I can’t help but feel a little guilty for not continuing to use the public library as a resource. Talking to my peers and friends, many of us have expressed that we don’t visit the library as much as we used to.  Why is this?

One: I Read Less for “Fun”

A harsh reality of adulthood. And student-hood. When I decide on a book I’d like to read, I am far more likely to get it from a bookstore or borrow it from someone that I know.

Two: Libraries are Different

With these changes that have been made to public libraries to become places of resource for those who need them, they have become less necessary for me. Leading to… #3.

Three: I Don’t Think I Need the Library

Libraries have had to adapt to a digital generation. Libraries within the Saskatoon Public System offer Books and Magazines, as well as extensive offerings of digital options, technology rentals, the only free public access to the internet as well as video game rentals, music and other forms of media. Perhaps, I have felt less inclined to access public library services, because I am privileged to have access to the internet at home, as well as streaming services for digital media such as Netflix and Spotify.

Figure 3. Saskatoon Library. From

Surely with the changes that libraries have made for the times, there are new uses to discover. First, I went to the Saskatoon Public Library Website. Turns out my library card is expired, so first thing on the agenda was to get a new one. I was prepared to drive to my local library and sign up, but I could sign up for one online. With a Library Card (digitally) in hand, I began to explore what was available to me. SPL has a full digital library of high-quality audiobooks for rental, as well as Ebooks, TV, movies, and other digital media. In physical libraries, they offer free internet access, computer access, and other technology for borrowing. In addition to each of these, there are exceptional services available online and in person. Some options I found included: “Your Next Great Read,” which invites a patron to provide a list of interests, and books that they enjoy, and a librarian who specializes in that area or genre will suggest other titles you may have never heard of.  If you are interested in starting a Book Club, they offer a “Book Club in a Bag,” that provides multiple copies of the same novel as well as guiding questions for discussion.

Libraries are essential components of communities. Often, especially in small towns, they are a central building, with multiple uses, that is important to many intersections within those communities. In Saskatoon, public libraries are one of a few places that offer free access to technology and the internet, in addition to books, public archives, magazines, movies, television, and video games.  Libraries are built with multi-use spaces that can be used for community gathering, artistic exploration, and education. From programs for Adult literacy education, to Youth Poetry Slams, the library is a gathering place for children, creatives, and academics. Knowing what resources are available, I aim to use them more, and with a renewed appreciation of a libraries place in a community, I intend to promote the continued funding and support of the institution.

Works Referenced and Cited:    

“Adults.”  Saskatoon Public Library. Accessed February 13, 2019.

Cross, Kelli. “Libraries: Dying or Thriving?” Medium, Accessed February 14, 2019.

“Digital Library.” Saskatoon Public Library. Accessed February 14, 2019.

“The Role of Modern Libraries” SPL Connects, Accessed February 13, 2019.