A library with no books?

This is an old article, but it’s still interesting. A prep school in the states is discarding their books to switch their traditional library into a digital library. Instead of browsing the stacks for books, students will be browsing the internet and using e-books.

I love technology and everything it has to offer, so I’m all for upgrading libraries and their collections, but I think that going this far is a mistake. We may do most of our research online now, but books still have value. If nothing else, being able to browse the stacks to see what other resources are available is something that these students will lose. Yes, they can (in theory) browse electronic collections and try numerous keywords, but most people don’t do that. Most people do a quick search, assume that their results are the only options and don’t even consider browsing, much less using alternate search terms. When you have the option to go to a shelf of books in subject order, you have the chance to find that obscure book that might just have all your answers.

I realize that doing a thesis is a bit different from being in prep school, but about half of my resources for my thesis came from being able to browse the stacks and browse books that were written long before e-books were easily accessible to the public (my oldest reference was from the ‘60’s, if I remember correctly).

It’s definitely an innovative idea, but I think that these students will be missing out by losing all those books.


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