I wanted to look up a recipe for quince (a type of fruit with a lovely scent that has to be cooked before eating) and I debated whether to go to the bookcase and thumb through our cookbooks… or to just search for “quince recipes” on our Samsung tablet.
I had access to both, so I had the choice…
But If you are one of the 550 students attending the brand new Florida Polytechnic University and want to look at books from their library, you won’t be going towards the library’s shelving system to pull out a book because at this university library there are no physical books to check out — all their books are in digital format only.
Is this the inevitable next phase of the digital era?
When a university opens a new library and there are no actual books to touch, to pull out of library bookshelves, when there are no paper pages for fingers to flip through, or actual books to carry to the check out counter, then a new era is truly upon us.
Excerpt from the L.A. Times article…
…That is, unless a student happens to bring an old-style hardcover or paperback to school.
They might; like most university systems, Florida State makes all of its books available to students through interlibrary loans, giving them access to 6 million volumes.
But the idea of the new Florida Polytechnic library is to move away from paper. Printers for articles accessed online are available but not encouraged. Instead, the staff hopes students will organize their research online with tools that are part of the library service.
There are also some collections of print books that Florida Polytechnic owns, but they are not currently available on campus.
“As for the electronic-only aspect of the library resources,” writes the trade magazine Library Journal, ” [Director of Libraries Kathryn] Miller emphasized that it’s the information that’s key, not its form.“
Oh wow…so the environmentalist part of me is happy to know we are saving trees and saving the resources that goes into making paper. Still…there is something kind of sad about no longer holding an actual book in one’s hands.
Is it just me being nostalgic (already!) even if there are still books all around me?
Will my grandsons’ children no longer have physical books around them — at least as I define books — and will they even still call them “books”?
And when my grandsons go to college, will their university library look like Florida Polytechnic’s library, too?
It is interesting that the origin of the word “digital” is the Latin digitalis from the late 15th century — digitus meaning finger / toe.
What do you prefer these days when you want to read the latest book or when you look up recipes?
Traditional books or digital, e-book sources?
And if you are a regular visitor to libraries (like we are)…what will you miss? Will you miss the smell of books and paper? And what about the tactile process of touching, picking up and selecting books versus the mostly visual act of reading from a tablet or smart phone…
Gosh, will there even be libraries then, or will these buildings be unnecessary if there is access to any and all information we want anytime and anywhere?
Related Lolako.com post: How long before print newspapers completely disappear
Also see The Digital Scriptorium – from the University of California, Bancroft Library – a growing image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that unites scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research.