I love libraries, and I love books, but there the needs of our students and limitations of our budgets have no room for misplaced romantic attachments. That’s why I’ve found myself paraphrasing something from Ibiblio’s Paul Jones (via Teleread):
That smell of an old book, that smell of old libraries? That’s the smell of the books rotting.
We must remember that libraries catalog and share information and knowledge, not books. Our students and faculty have already voted with their feet and demonstrated that our paper (and microform) collections of periodicals are useless compared to the online, fully searchable versions. How long before the same happens for books as well?
Connections: some people don’t get this, but there are a number who do (too many to list, actually). This issue is bigger than ebooks alone, but OpenReader deserves a plug here too.