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Fodder for the LIS people in the audience

[Warning: Marginally bitter rant ahead]

Yet another entry in the "libraries are dead" debate. I note parenthetically that certain people's statements at EduCause have taken on zombie status and WILL NOT DIE, viz. and to wit, making it even unto the hallowed halls of the New York Times and being referenced as supporting evidence by this jerkwad *ahem* sorry, James Tracy of Cushing Academy. Hell, let's just put all "those old pulpy devices" out of their mizry and burn 'em right now. Pffffft. Wonder what CA's enrollment will be four years from now.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against digital. But there is flat-out no way the digital repository(ies) out there are sufficient to replace print, Google Scholar and the Gutenberg Project notwithstanding. I pity those CA students. They'll be leaving prep school with a completely distorted view of research, literature, and Western civilization in general.

Oh wait -- it's a prep school (tuition $32K per year, $44K for boarders -- plus that $1500 "technology fee" which probably goes to fund their new all-digital "library"). They probably leave with that anyway.

Comments

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ennyousai
Feb. 18th, 2010 12:39 pm (UTC)
I agree that there's a distorted view of the importance of digital. I think it's useful, and definitely an important component, but when you look at *all* of the material out there in print, it's just...no. Going "all digital" is just not feasible.
delphipsmith
Feb. 18th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
Exactly! I get so vexed with people who thing digital is The Answer To Everything. It's not. It's a tool -- a great and powerful tool, but (should be) only one of many that we use to get people reading, studying, learning, thinking, library-ing.
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delphipsmith
Feb. 19th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
But what's the cost to the university for those five simultaneous users? If previously it was up to students to acquire a copy of the book, but now we (the university) are paying through the nose for electronic devices PLUS buying licenses for the books. Heck, why not just skip the high-tech middle man and buy the hard copy textbooks for students??

I'm all for making access better but instead of buying faddish pricey devices that a) can't leave the library b) require battery power or outlet c) need tech support d) only get you permission to READ a book, not to own it, resell it etc, and e) will become obsolete thus requiring expensive upgrading... instead of all that, why not just pressure publishers to bring down the cost of regular textbooks, and get profs to quit requiring a new edition every year?

This goes back to my point that technology is not a magic bullet. You could use a can of soup to pound in a nail, but wouldn't it make more sense to use a hammer (and eat the soup) ?

Until I can scribble notes in the margins, and sell my used e-books to my local second-hand store, and read an e-book in the bathtub without fear of destroying not just the book I drop in the Mr. Bubble but ALL 1200 BOOKS ON THE DEVICE (not to mention the device itself -- you don't just end up with one still-readable book with ripply pages, your entire library is gone AND you've been struck blind)...until that point, I'm not sold that digital is any kind of a replacement.

Here endeth the rant.
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