In this lesson, we’ll be writing a short 250 word essay. The writing prompt is one that you might on an English proficiency test such as the IELTS writing test (task 2):
Question: Given that a lot of information is easily available online, do you think there is still a need for libraries?
Please write a detailed response of at least 250 words in which you present compelling reasons for your opinion.
If you would like to practice your own writing, make sure you complete a draft before you look at the examples below.
Before you jump in and start writing your essay, it’s a good idea to do some brainstorming. Here’s a list of possible topics we came up, but you can probably think of more:
- Facilities (study rooms, hosting events, equipment, etc.)
- Meeting people / socializing
- Librarians can help you
- Rural areas with limited internet access
- Borrowing video games
- Local publications, archives
- Reference materials
- Elderly people with limited technological skills
- Difficulty of searching using key words
- Seminars, events, clubs
- Poor people, immigrants
- Family time
At present, this is just a jumble of ideas. The next step is to look for some patterns. For instance, a number of these points have to do with socializing, with creating a sense of community. Once you’ve figured out these general points, you’re ready to start writing a draft.
Our first draft is promising, but will need some further editing. Click on the underlined words and phrases for tips and suggestions:
There is a common perception that with easy access to online information we don’t need libraries anymore. However, there are significant limitation with using only internet sources. By contrast, libraries provide some extra benefits such as assistance and community supports.
Online browsing is difficult because of a lack of skills and needed equipment. To be able to use the online resources efficiently, some minimum of skills and knowledge are a must. For instance, some users have difficulty with typing or lack of information in their searching. In this situation, working with online reference could be a frustrating experience. Moreover, to have online access to the internet some devices are required, which may not be affordable for every user. For example, buying a computer is not a cheap purchase.
By contrast, libraries provide some extra bonus in addition to facilitate access to books. In library, we can join in different activities and events. For instance, libraries usually some clubs or seminars which their participants can enjoy these activities when they elevate their social skills and knowledge. Similarly, at libraries we can meet people who are able to help us in different ways. For example, people assist us in writing resumes or making us ready for interviews.
I find libraries a more warm atmosphere to help us in divergent aspects that make it unique against cyberspace.
In our revised version we’ve added more examples, tidied up the language, and made our sentences more personal and direct in tone:
There is a common perception that with easy access to online information we do not need libraries anymore. However, the internet has significant limitations. Whereas reading online is a lonely and sometimes frustrating experience, the library provides plenty of assistance as well as a sense of community.
When we access materials online, we face several difficulties. Some of these problems are technological. For instance, people with disabilities may not be great at typing, or may struggle with accessibility challenges. Similarly, many elderly people may lack computer skills, have difficulty using appropriate search terms, or may fall victim to phishing scams. In addition, we commonly assume that internet access is free, but not everybody can afford a computer or digital device. For such people, using the library facilities is a better choice.
Libraries are far more than a collection of books. In a library, we experience a feeling of belonging. We can join in different activities and events. I personally enjoy being part of a book club, as we can openly discuss our perspectives in a way that would not be possible in an internet forum. Also, libraries allow us to meet people who are able to help us in different ways. For example, most librarians are happy to assist us with crafting resumes or with preparing for interviews. Finally, libraries are great for socializing and for developing people skills. Whereas in cyberspace we easily feel isolated, in a library we are part of a real community.
Thus, even as more people rely on the internet for their information, libraries remain important. When we visit a library, we see children laughing, immigrants getting the help they need, and students working together. While the internet provides great resources, it will never be a living and breathing community.
My thanks to ESL student Reza for permission to share his first draft.