Headlines are very, very important, so when the question is couched as a zero-sum question like the one above, it frames the debate in terms which are far more apocalyptic than the reality.
If libraries are finished because of the rise of the internet and e-book, then pubs are finished because of the rise of social media and Facebook. After all who needs to head out to a bar if you can chit-chat with your mates online?
In internet terms, that headline is what's generally known as "linkbait". It catches your eye and you click on it. But the body content is very different than what's promised by the headline.
Libraries do very well in recessions. Circulation rates go up, and so does traffic. People trying to research and learn their way out of economic problems go to libraries. But the rewards of a library cannot be measured, so the number-crunchers have a hard time propelling them to the top of budget priorities.
And there's another problem. Libraries disproportionately serve the parts of society that make the least amount of noise and have the least amount of influence. The young, the old, the poor, the unemployed.
Incendiary questions about whether libraries are 'finished' feed off the comparative silence of people who use them and the fact that the benefits of a library are more intangible than many other public expenditures, and it's easy to see the gateway to misinformation.
There's one other issue too. We're living with a level of technology hype that's totally out of control. Every gadget commands huge amounts of online content space. We're all in a whirl about the power of high tech to help us in every way imaginable. Low tech has become undesirable, luddite, almost idiotic.
No matter that the internet is literally changing our brain wiring and preventing us from deep reading. No matter that web connections costs money which many don't have, and provides no curatorial filter.
The fact is that school libraries need books, not hype. And they need them now.
Technology is not a panacea, anymore than social networks can replace a brisk stroll to your local to chat with friends and neighbors. Don't let the categorical spin on the future of libraries control the debate.
Rumors of their demise are and will continue to be grossly exaggerated.