I will admit that reading a lot of these articles about the digitization of books and other media, and therefore the change of libraries, fills me with a complete sense of terror. Not from a professional standpoint; I am fully willing and able to learn how to use these technologies in a professional context. That doesn’t frighten me and I think it’s completely possible for libraries not to go extinct as some fear by adapting. I like to adapt, I’m good at adapting.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my office space at home, able to see two of my personal bookcases. They’re full of many good memories (a few bad ones, too) and the tangibility of paper knowledge. Perhaps for reasons discussed in Margaux DelGuidice’s article that I discussed previously, the digitization of information so completely makes me a little nervous because it seems somehow more questionable. If a thing has been written in a book, a nonfiction book, I trust it. I trust that it will have been properly edited for facts and content. If a thing is written digitally, anyone could have put it there, right? There might be improperly placed commas or misspellings, factual fallacies.
But it’s just something new to learn.
Kim Leeder’s post advocates “Knowledge, with a capital ‘K.'” That’s the right way to go about it. A lot of these librarians are seeming to be not afraid of the future, but preparing for it as best they can. They want to make sure that we don’t get lost in the convenience and instead strive for truth.
I do disagree slightly with Mike Shatzkin when he posits the questions “If we get to the day when the store is still called Barnes & Noble and it has one shelf of books and is otherwise full of stationery, plush toys, and reading gadgets, is it still a bookstore? If the Atwater converts itself over time into a community center with one room that has some books in it, will it still be a library?” He says no, I say yes. I say if Barnes & Noble or the Atwater want to call themselves bookstores and libraries, then they are. The definition of a bookstore and a library just may change, as terrifying as that may seem.