Ah, the smell of books


I love books. I really love books. I have four library cards in my wallet; books from used book stores, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and work are all over the house and my office. I often find the library or nearest college campus whenever I travel alone and go visit. The first thing I do when faced with a professional or personal challenge is look for a book about it.

I am no luddite, I enjoy new technology, but I will never own an e-reader. I want to hold a book in my hand, turn the pages, feel the paper, smell the crisp pages or musty aroma. I do have to admit, though, that most of the research I do for literature reviews, class, or other things for work are done solely online. So is it fair that I want students to go to the library, to use books? That a required entry in initial bibliography assignments is to cite a book? I think so- I want them to be aware of all the resources available to them, all that is out there.

It struck me when Martin Weller mentioned the “nightmare” of the “Googling of higher education [when] libraries…are replaced by digital copies of all content.” That is one of my nightmares, but I don’t think it will happen. I have two main reasons for thinking this:

  1. I live in a very urban neighborhood where most people walk to the library. It is often packed. Yes, many people are in there to use the computers and free internet, but there are also lots of people browsing the books, videos, magazines, and music. Families of all socioeconomic classes are bringing their children to the library for many reasons.
  2. When the television was invented, most people thought that would be the end of the radio. We still have LOTS of radio stations. When the VCR/DVD came around, many thought no one would go to the movies anymore. But millions of people pay $12 to see it on the big screen. People like choices, they like different offerings of content depending on the mood, goal, or time available.

To me, this means that more niches are carved out. There will always be a desire for libraries, and there will always be a need for librarians and face-to-face courses. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for all these new technological tools, too.

Now, don’t get me started on the future of my morning newspaper delivery…