Re: [NGC4LIB] “Is a Bookless Library Still a Library?”

Posting to NGC4LIB

On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:50 PM, B.G. Sloan wrote:

From Time magazine:

“We’ve been hearing about it for years, but the bookless library has finally arrived, making a beachhead on college campuses. At Drexel University’s new Library Learning Terrace, which opened just last month, there is nary a bound volume…”


Of course a library with no books is still a library. I think it is vital that librarians reconsider what defines the “library’s collection” if they are even to survive. The job of librarians is not, and has never been, to place physical objects on shelves and keep them in order. This is mixing up the tasks of the library with the purposes of the library.

What is a library? What purposes does it serve? What is the library supposed to do to fulfill the needs of the public or other community, who pays for it? The answers of 25 years ago to these questions are no longer valid.

At the moment, there is still a need for printed books, but we should remember that practically everything printed today exists in an electronic version somewhere. All that would have to be done is for those people in charge of those electronic versions, to just make them generally available. The technology exists for this to happen right now; the public wants it. It is going to happen sooner or later, and probably sooner in the STME fields, much as we are seeing now.

We must prepare ourselves, and that includes reconsidering the 19th century FRBR model of what users supposedly wanted back then, and RDA.