I’ve just started working on an article for Washington State Magazine about the changing role of the library. Without even interviewing a librarian yet, I’ve found the questions quickly accumulating.
Among the really fundamental library sources I used to use for background when delving into a subject or article were the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, Essay and General Literature Index, and Encyclopedia Britannica. It’s been years now since I’ve visited a physical library to open a paper version of either.
Britannica, of course, has been online for some time now. I’ve gravitated to other online indexes—as well, I admit, as general Google searches. As most of the more specialized information for whatever I’m working on tends to come from actual interviews with experts and other primary sources, that’s about the extent of my library use any more. In fact, these days, about the only reason I go to the actual library, which is a three-minute walk up the hill from my office, is to check out books.
Books? you say. How quaint. Not yet quaint, I reply. In spite of Kindle and Google digitalization and Bartleby, I plan to buy and read paper books for a long time to come. And I suspect they will be available. Much as I like online reference, other than for reference purposes, I’ve never read a book online or on a machine. (more…)