Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Technology and the shipboard library

Technology and the shipboard library

By Tom Stieghorst

The ship’s library has always been a small but special part of the cruise experience. But for how much longer?  
The library at sea, like libraries everywhere, is under siege by changing technology. And whether ships need to set aside space for libraries in the future is very much being debated as new ships are designed.

Carnival cruise director and blogger extraordinaire John Heald said in a recent posting that the library on the recent transatlantic crossing of the Carnival Legend was full of books.  *TomStieghorst 
"One thing all those transatlantic crossings had in common was that the library, by the end of the first sea day, sat entirely empty," Heald wrote. “Here on the Carnival Legend, the bookcases are full.
"Yep, the book is dead, long live the Kindle. Every deck I walk on, I see young and old reading their Kindles."

Even on an ocean crossing with presumably few younger, tech-savvy passengers on the manifest, the library remains fully stocked, Heald said: “Wherever I am, I see older people and their parents absorbed in their Kindles.”
Perhaps that’s just Carnival. Maybe the magnificent libraries on the Cunard Line fleet have emptier shelves on their Atlantic trips. But on most ships where space is at a premium, the library is an endangered species.

At the next major drydock nothing prevents a ship’s library from being converted to some other use. Heald suggested perhaps a cigar bar (a suggestion likely made for for comic effect, but maybe not.)
The trend is on display on Carnival Sunshine, the ship Carnival renovated from stem to stern earlier this year. While the library wasn’t eliminated or converted to another use, it now shares space with a bar.
Carnival is in the process of designing the next ship to set sail under its red and blue banner, the Carnival Vista. With Kindles in the hands of passengers young and old, it may well be the first Carnival ship without a library.

In his post Heald referred to a bookstore in Miami that he said was possibly a Borders, which he liked to visit when he comes to Miami. “It would not surprise me that, when I return there in November, it’s become a Walgreens or worse, a gym,” he wrote.
If in fact it was a Borders, it closed two years ago, along with the rest of the chain’s stores.  The Borders on South Dixie Highway in Miami reopened last week as a Trader Joe’s specialty market. 
At least it’s not a gym.