Yesterday, on Mrs. Blandings I read about another library being disposed of in favor of new technology. I mentioned in passing in my posts Immensely Chic and Exit Libris something of my experience with that. Despite being able to augment my own library, I neither subscribed to the theory behind the decision nor did I believe the justification that was given to it, and my skepticism remains strong.
Decisions such as these can be driven by the empire-building nature of administrators - a bid for glory, the justification for which has no long-term research behind it: theory expressed as necessity.
However, there are clear indications that universities whether for-profit or traditional, schools public and private, are having to make decisions about real-estate in a bad economy. Therein lies the nub: the cost of maintaining what has been the norm is considered too high and because education is a business, expenditure has to be cut and an acceptable means of keeping profits high must be found and be justified. The frequent justification is that technology is a means of delivering a better education for less cost. That may well be so, but the language of the salesmen is very interesting and would make a fascinating paper for a graduate student in a traditional university.
To some of us, deaccessioning a library can seem like an act of cultural vandalism. Whether truth or delusion, we know that the historical record is a log of what accidentally survived and what was intentionally destroyed.
The Edward Ardizonne drawing above shows how we go to our bookshelves for something and remain transfixed by the connections we make and the thoughts that flow from it all. Can the internet and digital data-bases do the same?
Edward Ardizzone, 1900 -1979. Self-portrait 1952.