I read that NY Times article Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? and I do agree with the literacy experts who said that not every kid is going to read Pride and Prejudice but they might go and read blog posts or read fan fiction online. So what if it's not great literature? They are reading. That's the point.
When my husband was a kid, he hated reading. He loved cars. His mother's friend, a teacher, said, "Get him car magazines." Soon after her suggestion, he couldn't read enough car magazines. To this day, that's pretty much what he reads; car magazines AND things online. Yes, I'm a librarian married to a guy who doesn't like books, but he's still a reader. And of course I still love him.
And look at Twilight. (I'm ducking my head here...) That series of books is by no means great literature. Are we going to fault the meeeelions of teenagers who read that instead of, I don't know, Romeo and Juliet?
So if our patrons want to check out Playaways or if we start offering e-books to download, or if people come to use our wifi to download titles to their Kindle, are we going to stop them? Are we going to snub them and say, "If you don't want something that's on paper and bound, you're a loser?" Um, no.
You know how dorky things eventually become cool? Rachel Maddow wears spectacularly nerdy glasses. Women I know (me? maybe?) have crushes on total nerds like Ben Gibbard and Colin Meloy. Dwight Schrute has become an anti-hero. The Strand bookstore in New York City is a tourist destination. It's kind of hot to be a nerd right now and books are nerdy.
There is going to come a day when someone will put down their Kindle and feel like picking up a physical book. Of course, they will be jamming to an mp3 on their new iPhone (I would die for one!!!) while they are reading, but I will embrace their choice, and point them to the bookshelf where they can find a book that makes them happy.
PS: Anyone see this blog post? Timely!