Yes yes, I’ve been slacking as of late. It’s the end of the term at school. I’ve moved out of my mom’s house, ect ect ect. Who cares?
I promised a response to my post about crucial reference sources and the depletion of library reference sections. Yes, I know the Internet is important. I know that it’s growing, that it’s inescapable, and that Google employs many librarians. I’m all for these things. I think they’re great. However, there is a vast wealth of human knowledge that has yet been placed into digital format. For instance, the rare book rooms containing volumes from the 15th and 16th centuries are not only undigitized, but also in a large part remain uncataloged.
So you say, “What do I care about what some monk wrote in 1482?” And, frankly, you probably don’t.
So, let’s look at a more modern example. Recently, the EPA announced the closings of several of its branch libraries. These libraries contain literally thousands of documents that are relevant to the public, but completely inaccessible because they are not digitized and the lengthy process to make them so is too costly for the agency. This happens more often than one thinks about. Lost in the blissful unreliability of Wikipedia and YouTube, one forgets about all the things they don’t know and won’t ever be able to find.
For librarians, well, we’ll always need books. We love the Internet, it’s essential to what we do. However, there are just some things that books are better at and are easier for us to use. Just like sometimes, you need books. So don’t be so quick to knock them or replace them with the Internet. They’re still essential. You can’t replace centuries of knowledge with a laptop, no matter how much information you put on it.
If you’re really interested in learning more about this radical idea, read Library Research Models by Thomas Mann.