Are libraries still relevant in the age of Google?

Abolhaggag Bashir, Arabic Content Editor

Do you think that libraries have no relevancy in the era of digital information and high-speed search engines? Some may answer: “Certainly, libraries have lost a significant part of their value and impact. Google’s search engine provides you with answers to any question that comes to your mind, and any information you are looking for about anything that might interest you.”

You may be right in this belief when you compare libraries and search engines in terms of speed of access to websites about books, newspapers, or magazines; blogs or social media accounts; schools, universities, and training centers; hotels, airlines or transport companies; businesses or products; and pictures, videos and documents, and the list goes. There is only one drawback that may seem minor, but is essential and crucial - you cannot view the content of these sites if they are not freely accessible.  

But who said that libraries are merely catalogues or electronic lists of books or magazines? This is a very limited perspective of a library’s mission, which is much deeper. Libraries would be seen in an entirely new light if they were thought of as a free source of valuable learning opportunities and real knowledge that are specially curated to meet your needs.   

Like any library, Qatar National Library opens free windows to treasure troves of information and puts at your fingertips some of the world’s most valuable learning resources to enrich your knowledge or develop your skills, whether in the fields of study, work or life in general. 

At Qatar National Library, for example, you can borrow and read more than a million print books on a multitude of fields and in different languages without paying anything. The only drawback is that you may not find the time to read all these books!  

The Library provides you with access - for free - to the full content of 252 databases of the finest and most renowned knowledge sources, which contain more than 750,000 ebooks, journals, magazines and newspapers along with audiobooks and accessible content. 

Needless to say, these resources are not freely accessible to individuals as they can be expensive, but they can be accessed for free through libraries. 

libraries and google


We find that Internet search engines are indeed nothing but powerful indexes for the content already on the web, including websites, audio, video, and books. In other words, a search engine is a table of contents that tells you names of chapters and topics along with the page number for you to browse! The book in this case is the entire web!  

There is another essential difference that is rarely noticed by many who think that search engines have eliminated the role of libraries. Search engines do not guarantee the reliability or quality of the displayed information. They simply display a list of results prepared by automated algorithms that rank the relevancy of results based on hundreds of factors. 

Libraries, however, put a lot of effort into providing their members with high quality electronic resources painstakingly curated by a team of expert librarians.

Sure, search engines can take you to the website of a hotel, store, publishing house, or author to buy what you want, but they are completely unable to provide you with paid content and learning resources. It goes without saying that most of the valuable high-quality content is usually paid and not available for free. Only libraries like Qatar National Library can provide you with access to that premium content for free.

There is another valuable source of learning and knowledge that search engines don’t and won’t ever provide! That is conferences, exhibitions, forums, lectures, educational workshops, seminars, and community reading workshops. 

Qatar National Library organizes dozens of monthly events that provide knowledge and training to all members of the community of different ages on many topics and fields.

Register and be a Library member today to get access to our valuable online resources and enjoy the world’s best treasure troves of knowledge. 

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