This model essay aims to provide some useful guidance for writing an insightful and impactful argumentative essay on an A-Level essay question. The essay is periodically interjected with Teacher’s Comments (TC) to allow a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the content.


P.J O’Rourke, an American political satirist and journalist, once said “The library, with its Daedalian labyrinth, mysterious hush, and faintly ominous aroma of knowledge, has been replaced by the computer’s cheap glow, pesky chirp, and data spillage.” [TC: Interesting opening sentence that shows originality] Indeed, ever since the influx of technology, the function of libraries has been greatly eroded in today’s modern society. Many people predict that the library, once a building that houses vast array of books, periodicals, music and film for use or borrowing of the public, is on the verge of becoming a ghost town, irrelevant and nothing more than a past memory. [TC: Refreshing way of defining a library] Despite such claims, I disagree with the proposition as physical libraries are beginning to adapt to the technological changes sweeping across the world. Besides, their function as a place of gathering remains unchallenged and lastly, its cultural appeal to the public persists. [TC: Good foreshadowing of the points to be discussed]

Undoubtedly, the pervasiveness of the internet has rendered the physical library obsolete as knowledge and information can be stored online. The internet has become a substitute for libraries as it can store a vast amount of information that is made accessible to the masses. This helps to greatly reduce the inconvenience of travelling and searching for information in a library. Furthermore, the advent of the internet has allowed people to gain access to electronic books and movies that can be found in libraries. For instance, Amazon, the eminent online retailer has begun the sale of their Kindle E-readers which serve to make it easy and comfortable for consumers to hold in one hand for extended periods of time. This development befits today’s globalised world where time and convenience are of key essence as people are continuously on the go (evident in the rising popularity of the jet-setting lifestyle) and a visit to the library is denigrated to a time-consuming and unworthy affair. [TC: Good counter-argument with apt example and evaluation)

Despite the benefits digital library can bring, we cannot underestimate the importance of physical libraries. Both physical and digital libraries are interdependent of each other and the synergy formed between them will both play an essential role in providing access to knowledge in countries around the world in the near future. According to John Palfrey’s new book: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, he believes that without physical libraries, we will lose essential public, intellectual spaces in our communities, places where people can meet face-to-face. Thus we should build digital libraries connected to physical libraries to meet our exploding need for knowledge and intellectual exchanges, which grow in tandem with rising literacy rates and better quality of life. Hence  it is vital that physical libraries continue to operate alongside digital libraries for visitors to make the most out of them. [TC: Good rebuttal with felicitous evaluation)

Firstly, libraries are beginning to adapt to changes in the world by constantly reinventing themselves to keep up with current trends. Nowadays, libraries are trying to serve a wide range of patrons at many different points along an “adoption curve” with all-print at one end and all-digital at the other. People are now able to have access to a huge database of e-resources and make use of technology to search for their desired materials. Libraries are also increasingly upgrading their services such as free wireless and intricate designs to provide a comfortable environment for users to gather and conduct their own activities. For instance, in Singapore, ever since the National Library Board (NLB) has launched the new Library@Orchard in 2014, it has attracted many users, especially young people as it serves as a courtyard for youths to congregate and its heavy emphasis on design, together with state of the arts digital access to e-books, is able to compete with commercialised establishments such as Starbucks. Thus, it clearly shows how physical libraries are advancing to keep in touch with the current trends to make themselves ever more relevant in our lives.  [TC: Good argument with apt example and evaluation)

Furthermore, libraries serve as a refuge for citizens who are burdened by their work demands. A library is still a sanctuary that preserves the peace and quiet atmosphere it has, making it a suitable destination for many to relax. In the midst of the heavy workloads and cutthroat competition in today’s globalised society,  many turn to libraries to seek comfort and solace in books and allow their imagination to run wild or live an alternate reality and discover new hobbies. For example, in The Sacramento Public Library in California, is one of a few dozen libraries in the country to embrace the “maker movement”, in which people use technology, such as robotics and 3-D printing, to create handicrafts and other objects. The management believes that libraries are now becoming hands-on creative hubs, places where people can learn new crafts and experiment with technology such as 3-D printers. This not only helps people to detach their minds off their hectic schedule, it also helps to shelter them from the pressures of our modern day society which is heavily concerned with productivity and gains in material wealth. Therefore, I believe that libraries are cardinal places that allow people to soothe their minds and discover their new strengths and interests. [TC: Good argument with apt example and evaluation)

Finally, people have recognised that libraries play an imperative role in preserving a country’s heritage today. A library can also be considered a national monument that helps to safeguard a nation’s heritage and shows how a country has advanced and developed throughout the years. Many bemoan the demolishment of these iconic buildings that helped people form a collective history and define their very own identities.  Demolishing it to the pave the way for urban development would be seen as ripping away a considerable aspect of a country’s identity. The old National Library in Singapore is a prime example of how such symbolic landmarks had to make way for urban development which received much public dissent in 2004. The controversy of such a demise has sparked greater awareness of local cultural roots and an unprecedented wave in favour of heritage conservation among Singaporeans. This shows how much people value such sentimental buildings that had once played a significant role in our heritage. Thus, libraries are not redundant in today’s world as many still have cultural appeal and historical significance that anchor us together and establish a sense of identity for us. [TC: Good argument with apt example and evaluation)

In conclusion, libraries continue to have an indispensable role in today’s society. They have brought about a raft of advantages, inter alia, a place for relaxation and indulgence and an institution that reinforces our roots. 

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