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Thread: The Libraries of the Future Will Contain Fewer Books

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    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    For reading, I much prefer the aesthetic of a good old book. Sitting in front of the computer tires me. I just love the feeling of a library. I like to go to them and hang out, just browsing the aisles.
    Yes, reading from the screen is hard and tiresome. But PDFs print so easily.

    The thing I do not like about modern technology is that it makes it too easy to find exactly what you are looking for. It removes the chance of finding that interesting looking book standing next to what you are looking for. That is why I love old fashioned libraries and used book shops, you never know what interesting things that you might stumble over while looking for something else. I have found some truly great books that way.

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    What will tomorrow's libraries contain ?

    I suppose that many books will be on CD-ROM or on data cards like those from digital cameras. I find it very tiring to read text from monitor screens. If anything really interesting appears on the Internet, I usually print it out onto paper to read at my leisure.

    Inasmuch as I have been reading books for 70 years, I am used to it and find it comfortable. Besides, I need no ancillary equipment. All I need is a book, a place to sit, and adequate light. :oldman

    I don't patronise libraries much, though. I hate time limits on my use of a book, so I usually buy a book which interests me so that I can read it at my own pace and re-read it whenever I want to. When I do go to a library, I usually read the book there, rather than take it out.

    Another reason why I do not often patronise libraries is that I do not find the catalogue programs user-friendly. It annoys me to have to go to the front desk to have someone find a book for me because I can't make the program work.

    It would not have done any harm for the library to retain a card file for the use of those who are accustomed to them. Their argument is that it requires "wasting" the time of a library employee to keep the file up-to-date for the convenience of those who are unwilling or unable to use the computer program.

    I have found microfilm and microfiche readers to be an infernal nuisance to use and anticipate that data chip readers will be even more so. Tomorrow's libraries are for those who grew up with them.

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    I am recovering from information-age shock. OK, I am old so this may be natural. But at the tail end of my working life I was confronted with employers who wanted me to enter my work on a computer. The reason for this was so they could tell if I was actually working. It was a duplication of effort. Therefore, my attitude was to get off the computer as fast as possible. This attitude has carried over to other things. For instance, I cannot believe a student in college ought to be able to cite internet references on term papers. But, if you go into any college library, they are first and foremost set up for digital users. These digital users often do not even know the author or title of the book they are seeking and so a search engine is provided for this purpose in the library's internal system. Much of the actual library is devoted to the internet and searches on it. I think much internet information is substandard and should be given third class status at best. As for reading vs. reading a computer screen, that is a no brainer. How can anyone relax and enjoy reading on a computer? Reading literature off a computer screen really must be a pain.

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    I haven't loaned a book at the library for several years, as I started to buy the books instead. Much easier, and I can re-read it when I feel like it.
    Don't have to put up with those damned short time limits as well!

    I must admit, though, that I have never read an E-book. It would be all wrong for me to read a book through the computer. When I read a book, the setting must be "perfect", I must sit comfortably and everything must be in order. Besides, as Raven so elegantly pointed out:
    I prefer to read long texts on paper because reading them online is not as easy on the eyes.
    Says it all.

    Besides, I don't think I quite like the digitalization of the world. Everything must be accessible through the mobilephone or the computer, and that just doesn't "feel right". Everyone wouldn't even bother going outside if this continues.

    I believe everything would be so much better if people had to do things "manually", instead of I.E. ordering things from the internet, reading e-books, chatting, having more friends on the internet than in your actual life (Oops, busted! :runaway ) etc. Now everyone doesn't even bother acknowledging your presence when you walk by or anything.

    The world is so cold and uncaring.

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    I very much cherish the fact that much academic work and reference has been digitalised. When I am writing an essay or preparing for a tutorial I like to have the journals, cases and legislation handy. As I am going to use the computer already for the purpose of preparation of said pieces of work it also makes it easier for a lazy fellow like me. :p

    When it comes to reading actual books, be it fiction or non-fiction, I much prefer to read them in bed, on the toilet or in my easy chair. I also want to be able just to put them aside easily so falling asleep doesn't result in an extortionate electricity bill.

    For general reading purposes, I even have certain preferences as to the edition of the book. For toilet-reading (shower-curtains pulled right back so the entire room is veiled in light ) or in my easy chair I much prefer paperbacks due to their lighter weight, but when it comes to reading in bed, I am of the opinion that hardbacks are the best thing since sliced bed. Your wrist doesn't get sore from holding the wretched thing to avoid creases and they look nice on the beside table. Oh, and of course hardcovers look better in the shelf, especially when you have a habit of being a trendsetter in the books you read and your entire circle of friends ends up eventually borrowing them...

    Academic books I prefer in hardcover. They already charge prices that are as close to unaffordable as it gets, and they are heavier than your average book already anyway, so they might just as well add a decent cover to them. Besides, of course, you can open the page for reference without having to worry about nasty creases on the spine (which I detest).

    And the larger work of fiction I am in the process of writing is obviously typed on the computer. If I handwrite it, it just gets lost. And if I use the typewriter I end up making hundreds and thousands of mistakes per page, which is a major downside even though you can take the typewriter anywhere you want ... then again you can do that same thing with a laptop, which has been and will always be my favourite type of computer, since it is much more handy than those huge, untransportable desktops.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    I think Digitalization is a good idea. Books and Documents won't last forever. I very much appreciate the Digitalization of Historical Documents. But I think reading Books is good too. It doesn't tire the Eye so much. So, I'm happy as long as both Options are available.

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    The Digitization Of Classic Books May Lead To A Dangerous Form Of Censorship

    In most situations it is not technology itself that is the problem, but rather how that technology is used. Motivations and objectives of the users matter far more than the medium. Consider the so-called “digitization” of books: we can say that it has the potential both for good and evil. On the hand, its proponents can praise the fact that the digitization of old or rare books has made them available to more people than ever before. There is merit to this view.

    Consider the project to make available the brilliantly illuminated Book of Kells, a masterpiece of medieval artistry. Digital databases now make available a tremendous number of old books to more people than ever before. On the surface, this sounds like an unqualified success; only a fool, proponents of digitization would say, would object to this kind of progress in the dissemination of knowledge. Yet we should always be mindful of the fact that technology is not—or should not—be seen as “good” for its own sake. Unless it is employed to serve a good end, it can only be seen as a neutral tool. In the wrong hands it can be an unqualified evil.

    These were some of the thoughts that came to mind when I recently read an article about how some universities are abandoning book collections in favor of completely online digital databases. The article relates how the University of California at Berkeley is seeking to “meet the needs of the 21st century student” by slowly phasing out physical copies of books. One student interviewed even said he had never checked out a book from the library. Of course, this shift was presented like a step in the right direction, a bold leap into the modern world where everything would be at everyone’s fingertips.

    Of course it was. Every time institutions or authorities seek to curtail our freedom or access to information, such moves are portrayed as advances that are “helping” us or that are giving us more “freedom.” The author of the article notes that most of the best materials are not digitized. Not only this, but online databases can contain a large amount of low-grade information. Perhaps most chilling of all is the fact that converting everything to a digital format makes it far easier for authorities to control the historical record. The Berkeley library article, cited above, made this chilling observation:

    Ignoring these older physical media, Dixon argues, is “erasing the past,” until every scrap of information is online. And even then, there are other potential problems. The removal of 60 percent of the physical collection at the science library of the University of California, Santa Cruz, for instance, caused an uproar after it was reported that many of the books removed had been destroyed. A campus spokesman said that nothing had been lost from the scholarly record, since duplicates were retained in other libraries or available online. Given the short timeframe and seeming lack of consultation of the faculty, however, many critics expressed doubts that this was actually the case.

    There it is: many of the books removed had been destroyed. So here we see the other big problem in digitization: the lack of accountability that the alleged work is being done. How can we be sure that these institutions are actually scanning the books that they claim to be scanning? Who is monitoring them? Are we willing to trust them for this task? I for one am not.

    Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that they actually do what they say they will do. Suppose they do scan or digitize entire libraries. What then? Will it not be far, far easier for systems of authority to control or manipulate access to historical information? How can we be sure that the University of California will not one day decide to prevent access to all works written before 1950 as being “offensive” or not in tune with political correctness? You may laugh at this, or call me an alarmist, but I am not so sure. When it comes to our precious cultural heritage, we cannot place our faith in the same institutions that have been betraying that same heritage for the past forty years.

    Seen from this perspective, digitization becomes a stealth technique of censorship. In the future, systems of power and control will not physically throw books into the bonfire; such symbolism would not suit the overlords of political correctness. But they will try to consign our heritage to oblivion in subtler, more devious ways. One can imagine a scenario like this unfolding:

    1. Libraries and universities announce that they need to “free up more space” and make libraries “more accessible and welcoming” to a dumbed-down population too addicted to smart phones to know or care about anything beyond them. As in the assault on privacy, this will be done in a way that make the authorities look like they are trying to help us.

    2. Political “leaders” mouth platitudes about expanding our “right to choose” and our “freedom of choice” and link this to the push to digitize all physical books they can get their hands on. No agencies or independent monitors are put in place to see that the books are being properly digitized. No one is checking to see what actually becomes of the old books once they are digitized.

    3. The modern “library” now becomes a recreational space populated by homeless vagrants, gamers, and screaming young children. (Recall that the Roman forum in classical times was the scene of political debate but became in the Middle Ages a place for grazing cows). The only “books” available on the shelves are those in tune with political correctness. Older books—known to contain dangerous ideas—have been “digitized” and are (in theory) able to be accessed. But the fact that they are so squirreled away makes it unlikely that anyone can find them or easily use them.

    4. The gatekeepers of the digital databases now begin to do the unforgivable: they start, in subtle ways, to tamper with the digital databases. Sentences vanish from books. Pages vanish from books. Some books become “illegible” slowly and surely. Rogue librarians take it upon themselves to purge or condense books they don’t like. As the years go by, it becomes harder and harder to locate titles that are deemed “triggering” or “distasteful.” All of this, of course, is done under the guise of “helping” you or making life “easier” for you.

    5. The keepers of the databases being to monitor and restrict access to their data. Roadblocks are put in place to deter seekers of knowledge about certain periods of history. Passwords and other forms of “authentication” are slowly put into place to restrict access. Your passwords can be revoked at any time, and thus your ability to learn can be monitored and revoked at any time.

    6. Even if there is no overt tampering with data, digital databases are subject to easy destruction by weather, fire, electromagnetic fields, or human error. Physical books, by contrast, are much more difficult to destroy.

    If all of this seems farfetched or absurd, think again. Some of the great classics of antiquity survived only in a few neglected manuscripts. In the case of the historians Tacitus or Velleius Paterculus, there was only one single manuscript that survived. When people no longer care about preserving their cultural heritage, it will inevitably be neglected. Monks in the Middle Ages used precious manuscript leaves for prayer-books because they did not care about what was written on the vellum or parchment. In the same way, some of the monuments of ancient Rome were cannibalized to build churches. The point is that someone has to stand guard over knowledge and information and prevent its destruction through neglect or malice. We have been far too willing to accept digitization of physical books without thinking of the inevitable consequences.

    For me there is no substitute for a physical book. One of the older books I own is a history of New England published in 1798 in Boston. It was dedicated to president John Adams. Even after 220 years, it is still in good condition. The paper used in those days was high-quality, acid-free rag paper. When you hold it up to the light, you can see how strong it is; books published today just can’t compare to the beauty and durability of very old books. After all these years, it has not faded much, and the paper is not very yellowed.

    Does anyone have confidence that our digital databases will still be around in 200 years? We can’t even read emails written 20 years ago. We should be very suspicious of digitization. I understand that we can’t stop the flow of technology; but we can hold our institutions to account. We must be willing to sound the alarm when the inevitable attack on the historical record begins. And make no mistake: the attack is coming. In some ways it is already here, as the article cited above demonstrates. In the meantime, buy physical books, and marvel at their beauty.
    http://www.returnofkings.com/121193/...-of-censorship

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    Thank you for this article. I'd heard about the California U. case before, it's really scary what this trend may lead to in the long run. I do think digitization is essential, I myself run a project to collect digitized books from the internet and make them available as epub's. I think the rise of independent libraries that can be used to check if secret revisions are made to the university/government/etc. held databases could be useful. The original just shouldn't be destroyed in the first place though.
    Librarian at the darknet site http://inclibuql666c5c4.onion, use Tor to visit.

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