When I announced to a group of friends that I was going to pursue a library science degree, I distinctly remember one of my friends asking, “Why would you do that? Don’t you know libraries won’t be around much longer?”
That was 28 years ago and libraries are still around! They are, of course, very different, but so are many other things. Consider: (1) computers are now ubiquitous in libraries and elsewhere, (2) people watch television and movies on mobile devices as much if not more often than on their televisions, (3) many people have eschewed landlines in favor of cell phones only. I could go on and on.
Consider further that a large percentage of legal research is now conducted online, but many law firm libraries still maintain a physical footprint–albeit a smaller one–in their offices. And contrary to what some may say, not everything is online–even in 2012!
Legal researchers continue to be tasked with the need to consult both print and online resources to get to the best answer for their clients. And with information in disparate places and formats, the need for libraries and librarians is as important as ever. The law librarian, now a master of both print and online information, can be the key to ensuring that an important piece of information isn’t overlooked.
So, no, libraries are not going the way of the dinosaur. Legal research will always be necessary, but libraries and the concept of research in general will morph into something different than what they are today–just as they always have.