Friday, November 13, 2009

Libraries of the Future

As Kindles and Nooks and electronic books grow in popularity, I remain convinced I would rather have a physical book to cherish and return to for rereads. I hate reading about institutions such as Cushing Academy, which recently got rid of all its books (I wonder whether the alumni really knew what was going on and how they reacted to all the publicity). Am I the only one who rereads her favorites on a regular basis?

Author James Patterson, recently criticized Cushing Academy's decision to discard their books, and apparently he paid for his niece to attend the school (well, he can afford to - if I had his money, I would buy my nieces a school).

The magnificent Harvard University Library system (70 plus libraries, 16 million volumes) is struggling with budget constraints like everyone else, and the provost says that one of the university's "main goals . . . is to ensure that students and faculty have access to much of the world’s scholarly works “in perpetuity” by taking advantage of digital resources, but such access does not necessarily mean “ownership and preservation of everything.” This makes me sad because I thought Harvard was practically the Library of Congress in terms of acquisition. Where will scholars go if they cannot rely on Harvard to have the resources they need?

I don't want my libraries to change, although I will admit I love one new feature - being able to place reserve and purchase requests online, then pick up the books magically a few days or weeks later.


Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Really a comment/query about the previous post, Constance. I just bought music in Western Civilization and wonder if I have this right. Was this your grandfather who was born in Budapest? I hadn't realized that and always, somehow, think of you as Irish, which may be totally wrong and I am not sure why I think it. Buried back in '97 when I first joined the maud list, I guess.

Wendy said...

But, Constance, you will still be able to buy and keep and reread your favorite books in solid book form... no one's going to take that away from you. E-readers are ideal for books you don't want to keep.

CLM said...

Yes, Kristi, my grandfather Lang was born in Budapest in 1901, fought on the "wrong side" in WWI, later studied at the Sorbonne and rowed for France in the 1924 Olympics, and then came to America, where he taught at Wells College and Vassar before joining the faculty at Columbia (where he taught your former Archbishop Weakland).

I am Irish too, through two of the other grandparents.

Wendy, how do I know before I buy the book if it is one I want to keep??

Wendy said...

Until I started buying the occasional e-book (because my library is so bad), I never bought any books that I hadn't read before. Now, if I loved an e-book enough, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a hard copy too; but I'd have to love a book an awful lot to do that, just as I have to love a library book an awful lot to buy it.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

What a wonderful grandfather! But Weakland was never a bishop in the Cleveland diocese where I have lived all my life. I thought you were all Irish, and you thought I was from Milwauk Milwauk Milwaukee?

CLM said...

No, I know you are from Cleveland and he was based in Milwaukee; just was sleepy.

I thought you always knew I was Hungarian because you sent me such nice updates when you were living there.