Libraries Without Books—No Different than Roads Without Horses
What is a Hockey Rink without Ice, a Mariachi Band without Sombreros, or Ashley Simpson without lip-syncs? The University of Texas is developing libraries without books in favour of a digital alternative.
The topic of books versus digital technology is a counter-offensive topic. The pro-activists who founded libraries with books are opposed to the new era of students and faculty who are intent on moving into the digital age.
Students in elementary schools are starting to become knowledgeable at a much earlier age; therefore by the time they reach university they will be actively involved with computers and computer technology.
Digital technology, even in books, has started to expand. Buy a book for university on almost any topic and likely you will find a CD included which will assist you with the book. Therefore, get rid of the book and store it electronically in the library.
Granted the original cost factor is an issue, but in the long run a digital library is more effective than one with paper documents.
The library would no longer have large rooms filled with outdated books. With digital computer technology the books can be updated when a new edition becomes available.
A digital library will have to permit each student access to the computers, but the initial costs will soon be off set by eliminating the rising cost of research books to the library and textbooks to the students.
Traditionally minded researchers feel that books are the scholarly communication of our time. This is true, but wax records were once used to listen to music and horses were the most convenient means of transportation. Much like records and horses the books should not be completely eradicated, rather accessible for those who feel the need to use them. To accommodate today's research, it's time to send the "old libraries" to the glue factory.
Electronic Library is a Short Circuit Idea
Something is wrong! There are no books in the library!
Well, that is not the case at Brandon University, but it will be when a new project at the University of Texas at Austin is complete.
This project will replace many of the library's 90,000 books with software suites, where students can use computers to do electronic research 24 hours a day.
Thus just speaks to the increasing trend in today's society that more people depend on computers to do research. All they need to do is just point and click to find the book they need.
One has to wonder who will foot the bill for such a large undertaking. Not only does the University need to pay to specially train new technology support staff and librarians but they also need to pay the staff that will be available around the clock to make sure there are no unforeseen incidents with the database.
If there are no technical support staff overnight and the computer system goes down, that negates the benefits of having the library over that time period in the first place.
One of the selling features of this idea is that it will be easy to update. As any student knows, having the most up-to-date information is crucial, but they may be left wondering when the updated information will appear.
It is unclear how often the system will be updated. This further negates the convenience of this 24-hour electronic information commons.
People are so accustomed to flipping through pages rather than scrolling down pages. There is something to be said about being able to sit down with a book and research. Scrolling down screens seems tedious and ineffective. With books one can simply turn to the index and see whether or not that particular book is useful for the task at hand. With the system of suites there is no indication that there is a simple and fast way to sift through the material, which wastes valuable research time.
We believe that there are many possibilities available on the Internet and they should be explored. Yet, in this goggling age, the University of Texas at Austin is taking it one step too far by creating a generation of students who will lose the great potential and possibilities that can be found within books. This new system seems to be an expensive inconvenience rather than a cutting-edge research tool.