A boarding-school library in New England has completely eliminated the old stacks and gone digital.
“If I look outside my window,” Tracy says, “and I see my student reading Chaucer under a tree, it is utterly immaterial to me whether they’re doing so by way of a Kindle or by way of a paperback.”
This is interesting to me, not because it’s cutting edge – it actually seems well past due for libraries to make the jump to an electronic format – but because the of the backlash they seem to be getting. Who wouldn’t rather have a giant beautiful old book to carry around? But we’ve entered the century with 6 billion confederates riding around on this tiny rock of ours, and the only way were going to make it to the next century is by educating the hell out of everybody.
That means we need to be pushing out all our information to as many people, as possibly as quickly as possibly. The internet provides that, but libraries need to be the linchpin of the strategy – to promote the database if knowledge, the new methods of research – to teach the next generation the all important task of how to educate themselves. But the format, the easiest cheapest way to disseminate knowledge to the remotest poorest parts of the world is electrically. Monks used to hand-write books and the global knowledge-base was proportionately small. Then came Gutenberg. Now comes something else.