I’ve been following discussions in two different worlds this week. The first of these is based on an article by Brian Mathews, in which he discusses the effect of mobile cloud computing on libraries. His ideas especially drew attention when the Chronicle’s Wired Campus blog pulled ideas from Mathews’ speculations in an article with the provocative title If Libraries Remove Computers, Will Anyone Come? This was such a good title 😉 that the LISNews blog also ran a follow-up article with the same title. My thoughts on the discussion are well-summarized in the title of my comments on the LISNews article – Removing Computers is Moot: Mobile, Cloud & iPad are Coming! My point (and I think Mathews’ point) is that mobile cloud computing is coming, and when it does, there will be little need to have computers in libraries because students won’t be using them.

The other discussion I’ve been following is based on a talk given by Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley (AKA “Queen of the Internet”) — Mobile Internet Will Soon Overtake Fixed Internet. Her talk was muchdiscussed and her slide below was much shared on blogs — It’s relevance to the Libraries Removing Computers discussion is apparent — Mobile is going to overtake Desktop by 2014. What will libraries be like by then?

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumseytemp AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumseytemp

4 thoughts on “Will Libraries Remove Computers When Mobile Arrives?

  1. I look at things like this and I don’t quite understand. In my academic library, while I agree removing computers will reduce numbers it isn’t anyway close to cutting by half. There are only 30 computers really.

    Most undergraduates have their own laptops anyway, why do they come to our library? For a quiet place to study. It’s extremely crowded when exams are approaching such that we even open 24 hours (when computers are off).

    Not saying that being a glorified study hall is good for a library though…

  2. Remove the computers? Why? According to the graph there will still be lots and lots of “desktop [not laptop?] internet users” for quite some time after the mobile user numbers surpass the deskies. In fact, the projection seems to show continued (albeit very slow by comparison) growth in the number of deskies. Should they be disenfranchised? I hope not.

  3. Aaron and Philip, I agree that students will likely have need for computers in the library for several more years. The trend that Brian Mathews is talking about is long term.

    It’s notable that the Morgan Stanley graph does not take into account the iPad. This is particularly important in light of the much-discussed idea that the iPad may be a realistic laptop-substitute. As Mathews says, studies show that students don’t generally carry their laptops around with them now, which is part of the reason they need library computers. But with the iPad, students may be more likely to use them as truly mobile computers.

  4. I agree too that students will likely have need for computers in the library for several more years. The trend that Brian Mathews is talking about is long term.
    I dont think so

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