Top Tips for IELTS

Public libraries and digital technology essay

In this lesson I show you two different approaches to a “To what extent do you agree” essay about digital technology and public libraries. In one essay I take a strongly positive view in favour of maintaining libraries and in the other I take a more balanced view saying that digital technology has overtaken libraries in most areas bit  libraries are still relevant.  You’ll find help with

ways to structure the essay

noticing useful collocations and phrases

ideas for similar essays

ideas to help your coherence and cohesion

Task response and understanding the question

Maintaining public libraries is a waste of time since digital technology is now replacing their function. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

To get the task response right you need to

discuss both public libraries and digital technology 

state a clear position saying to what extent you agree –  the basic options being a lot/not at all/slightly

Complete disagreement essay

It is certainly true new forms of technology has affected the way we read and libraries are no longer as relevant as they once were. Despite this, I strongly believe that it is of paramount importance that local and central governments should continue to support public libraries. In this essay I discuss why they are still a necessary institution in the digital age as there are limits to the new digital technology and libraries are important community centres.

One reason for arguing that libraries are still necessary is that they are vital parts of local communities especially for the older generation. This is because public libraries do not just lend books but also typically serve as community centres which provide a range of different services including hosting talks and lectures, providing information about the local area, access to computers and careers advice. Additionally, many older people rely on libraries as somewhere to go in order to enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet in relaxing surroundings and they would suffer greatly if they were abolished.

A second argument for maintaining public libraries is that they provide free access to books for everyone. This is a significant point as a large section of society are unable to pay for books online or do not have access to computers or smart phones or are simply uncomfortable using digital technology  and would never read online. Indeed, research shows that only a relatively small percentage of the population use devices such as a Kindle to read and this means that books have not become obsolete. As this is the case, it is surely the duty of the authorities to provide access to books to those who want it.

In conclusion I believe it would be entirely wrong for public libraries to disappear as reading through digital technology is not universally accepted and libraries offer far more than mere lending services.

More balanced essay – partial agreement

Digital technology has without question changed the way we read and access books and this threatens the role of the public library. My view is that while there is a good argument for saying  libraries are much less relevant nowadays, they still perform a vital function and should be be maintained.

The advance of online reading technologies and services is one compelling argument in favour of limiting any funding public libraries . It is now possible to not just buy almost any book you want online through stores such as Amazon, you are also able to borrow books for a small subscription fee from various sites. Indeed, these online services are generally much more comprehensive and reliable than any provided by a local library where you can often have to wait weeks for the book you want. In these circumstances, it is quite possible to argue that public libraries are out of date and have been largely overtaken by technology.

Despite this, public libraries do still have some role to play and it would be a mistake to abolish them entirely. One such role is lending books to children and encouraging children to acquire the reading habit books by having schemes that reward them for borrowing books on a regular basis. Many parents who are anxious about the amount of screen time their children have would much prefer to visit a library where they can more closely monitor the books their children are taking out. Another important role public libraries perform is stocking a wide range of reference books and more specialised books  that are typically not available via online services. While these services may be limited, they still matter and show that libraries still perform an important function.

My conclusion is a mixed one. On the one hand, I believe it is true that nearly all the function of libraries have been replaced by digital technology, but in some areas, namely children’s books and reference books, public libraries do have a role to play.

Notes on essay structure and task response

There a variety of possible approaches to To what extent do you agree type essays – some of which I discuss in this lesson. Whichever approach you take you should make sure that your point of view is both clear and consistent throughout the essay.

If you look at the words highlighted in red you should see that in both essays I:

establish my view in the introduction

start each paragraph with a clear topic sentence relating to my position

summarise my position in the conclusion.

In this type of essay I really recommend that you clearly state your position. It can help to use words such as I do e.g. “strongly believe” and “my view is a mixed one”

Introductions

The two introductions are different but both work.

The first takes a three sentence approach saying In this essay I discuss why.. The benefit of this is that it allows me to signal more clearly the content that follows. I show the examiner that I’ll be writing about limits to digital technology and libraries as community centres.

The second takes a quicker 2 sentence approach where I establish the topic and then set out my main view.

Choosing your essay structure – content paragraphs

Which is the best structure? The best way to choose your structure is to think about what your opinion is. This is where you need to think carefully as you plan. You should consider if your ideas require

a balanced approach

a strong approach

Then you just need to decide on what to do with your main paragraphs. Remember each paragraph should contain one main idea that clearly relates to the question and you should write both about libraries and digital technology.

My models

Essay 1 follows this model

para 1 libraries are good as community centres – Disagree

para 2 libraries are free and universal and digital technology is not – Disagree

Essay 2 uses this model

para 1 nearly all services of libraries are provided by digital technology and libraries are out of date – Agree

para 2 libraries provide some services better than digital technology – children’s and reference books – Disagree

Vocabulary and ideas

I use a great range of vocabulary in these two essays. If you think it looks too simple, think again.

Collocations

Here are some of the word combinations (collocations) I use – highlighted in blue. This is exactly the sort of language you need in IELTS – precise and accurate – it really isn’t about long words.

Essay 1

strongly believe

paramount importance

serve as community centres

hosting talks and lectures

a few moments of peace and quiet

suffer greatly

a significant point

a relatively small percentage

devices such as a Kindle

provide access to

entirely wrong

universally accepted

Essay 2

has without question

performa a vital function

compelling argument in favour of

subscription fee

more comprehensive and reliable

In these circumstances

have some role to play

on a regular basis

amount of screen time

closely monitor

stock a wide range of books

More ideas

More ideas are available! Some of these might help you with this or similar essay topics:

against  books/libraries

books are heavy – difficult to carry – pages get torn

no interaction

cost of libraries

in favour of e-readers

e-readers are light

can contain lots of books

ergonomic with special lighting

dictionary attached

long battery life

special highlighting/note taking function

for books/libraries

you can share books – more social

better for learning reading skills

find people who help you in libraries

against e-readers

can distract you if have games on a pad/tablet

 

Coherence and cohesion

One important part of coherence is to show the examiner where you are in your argument. Here the first sentences in your paragraph are really important. Look at what I do in my first essay:

One reason for arguing that libraries are still necessary

A second argument for maintaining public libraries

You should see how I balance my paragraphs – one clearly relates to the next. It’s easy for the examiner to see how it all fits together. Note too how I don’t repeat reason but vary it with argument. Also see how I vary still necessary with maintaining. The meaning stays the same but the words change – this is an important  part of cohesion – it’s really not all about linking words.

In essay 2 I take a slightly different approach but it works just as well.

The advance of online reading technologies and services is one compelling argument in favour of limiting any funding public libraries .

Despite this, 

Here I explicitly refer to my first paragraph in the second one and show that I am going to be saying something different.

Grammar

Here are a few grammar structures for you to notice.

 Despite this,

This is a useful linker to show that what comes next is a contrasting idea.

Despite this, I strongly believe that it is of paramount importance that local and central governments should continue to support public libraries.

Which for a more complex sentence that defines

Which is a very useful structure as it allows you to add information or define something – both very useful when you are explaining ideas. See what I do here:

This is because public libraries do not just lend books but also typically serve as community centres which provide a range of different services including hosting talks and lectures, providing information about the local area, access to computers and careers advice.

I could have written this as two sentences but I joined them up with a  which.

If for an example

This is one of my favourite techniques – using if for an example

they would suffer greatly if they were abolished.

The emphatic do

This is a simple but very effective structure. You just add the auxiliary – here do – to make your point stronger

Despite this, public libraries do still have

More sample essay lessons

if you’ve found this lesson useful. you’ll find loads more sample essays here:

sample IELTS essays

   

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6 Responses to Public libraries and digital technology essay

  1. Rima October 12, 2016 at 11:01 am #

    Thanks

  2. varinder October 12, 2016 at 11:19 pm #

    it is really helpful .thanks for keep sending the emails about how to improve ielts each part of module

  3. Sandhya paul October 13, 2016 at 9:31 am #

    Thankyou.. Its a wondergil job!

  4. Jessie October 15, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    Thank you very much.

  5. Anonymous October 17, 2016 at 12:55 am #

    thank you so much

  6. rachelxu November 19, 2016 at 6:11 am #

    Thank u for your work!!!

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