As we all know, regular libraries are places where you to go borrow books. The books we check out are ours for a couple of weeks and then we take them back so others can have them. Those books are then theirs for a time during which they can benefit from the joy and information contained in the books. We each only have them temporarily.
If we want books for our very own on a more permanent basis, we tend to go to a bookstore or supermarket and buy what we want. There also are some fabulous treasures to be found at garage or yard sales, of course.
Both ways of acquiring books are wonderful, because the desired outcome is to have books in your home. That’s important because research shows books in a home elevate the sophistication of a family’s every day conversation and the language spoken there.
Being a language guy, I’m all for having lots of books of all kinds around—whether borrowed or owned. We probably have an ever-shifting collection of a couple of thousand at our house. We are constantly checking out or buying more, recommending good reads and giving others away to friends or the library.
Another strange, but wonderful way to acquire books is through digital media. The Internet contains a couple of varieties of online libraries—those affiliated with brick and mortar lending libraries where you borrow e-books and other e-media for a specified period of time, and those that just say, “HERE! Have a book. It’s yours for free, forever!” The Unite for Literacy library is one example of the latter, of course, as is the International Children’s Digital Library.
Free, digital books, like love, are inexhaustible. The books are never checked out as such, so they are always available for the next library visitor. When you acquire a book in this way, you haven’t borrowed the book exactly, because it is always there on your digital bookshelf, just as if it were yours. Still it can’t be said that you own the digital copies, but you can pull them out of your pocket anytime via a smart phone or tablet and read to your heart’s content without keeping anyone in the world from doing the very same thing with the very same book. In fact, the very act of publishing books in this way means that they don’t belong to anybody. They belong to the world!
With Wi-Fi-only digital devices now available for as little as $20 (and less all the time) that means that within the next five years, every child, every parent, every family in the world could have thousands of books in their homes without owning any of them. Think what that could mean for the expansion of language, thinking and learning!
Like love, that’s utterly fulfilling and limitless, there’s no downside to digital libraries and to the books they freely provide for us all.