Amazing? Yes. Bookless? No.

The announcement that Stanford is creating an amazing new “bookless” library has created quite a stir among the bloggers and the tweeters.
Consider this post a call for some perspective:

  • “Bookless” doesn’t really mean no books in this case. The new engineering library will not only still have books (about 20,000 of them; plus 50 journal titles), but there are also another several million books on campus that are likely to remain here for a long time.
  • A big chunk of the “books” that have been sent off-site from the Engineering and Physics collections are actually back-sets of journals. Moreover, the off-site books and journals will be available for delivery within a day or two should a scholar need them.
  • Engineering and Physics scholars are far less likely to rely on books for their research–especially books you find by browsing physical stacks–than are humanists and social scientists. They are also more likely to prefer digital resources over print ones.
  • The emotional attachment folks have to physical books, and the desire to keep lots of them around for browsing is almost always about humanities and social science books, not Engineering and Physics books.

For those who missed it, the original hype started with this San Jose Mercury News article, followed by this KPIX Channel 5 video.

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