Yes, we agree. Digitise away, but keep the buildings! Even if they are the
humble, Queens Public Library branches.
Good luck with your kids. Having just had one, I hope I can teach her
someday to dig for hidden gems, where no one else is looking...
--On Saturday, March 25, 2006 10:46 AM -0500 "Richard L. Hess"
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello, Marcos,
> I grew up in Queens and fondly remember what I recall as the Main Branch
> of the Queensboro Public Library somewhere in Jamaica. I remember
> spending hours at microfilm readers there.
> I understand your rant and now that I'm living in the small town of
> Aurora, Ontario, Canada (my wife's home town and officially part of the
> Greater Toronto Area) we do make use of the Aurora Public Library which
> was recently enlarged. My boys and wife go there regularly for help with
> school projects, despite a thousand-plus-volume library here at home,
> more if you count LPs, CDs, and tapes.
> I also fondly remember many trips to the Donnell Library branch of the
> New York Public Library, just across 53rd Street from the church I would
> attend in my last years in New York City. Donnell's LP circulating
> collection help introduce me to a wide variety of Broadway shows which I
> never could have afforded to buy on LP at that time. I did end up buying
> many of those in LP and CD form as my income increased over the years.
> I also made use of the Library at Lincoln Center a few times.
> Anyway, I hope that Libraries will be around. They offer a great level
> playing field so that anyone, independent of ability to pay, has access
> to great ideas. Anyone who would attempt to monetize (oh how I hate that
> word--to me it symbolizes much of what is wrong with our society today)
> library access would be flying in the face of that goal. After all,
> wasn't it Andrew Carnegie who gave grants for libraries in smaller towns
> all across the U.S.A?
> I do think that Google's approach may be interesting as an index and may
> actually help libraries gain more patrons.
> On the other hand, I applaud what David Seubert and his colleagues at
> UCSB have done with their cylinder collection. This becomes a library
> that transcends the brick and mortar (well, in Southern California they
> don't use bricks without serious reinforcement, but you know what I mean)
> approach. It takes the brick-and-mortar edifice that is required for the
> library to house and protect the artifacts and extends it and permits the
> library to offer its unique collection to the world.
> In addition, the Web portal was really a byproduct of the real work of
> the cylinder digitization project, and that was to preserve the
> cylinders. While the cylinders themselves are a unique archive, they are
> fragile and probably deteriorating, although the timeframe of the
> deterioration may be longer than other media.
> Also, preservation by geographic separation is a crucial concept, brought
> home to us many times. As a former resident (21 years) of Southern
> California, I am aware of the risks posed by fires, floods, and
> earthquakes. It is a GOOD IDEA to have geographic separation in all
> collections and it is an even BETTER IDEA in California.
> While the digital copy of the cylinders may not be the original artifact,
> the interest in the artifact is a much narrower interest than the content
> of the artifact. We have proven this time and again with paper-back
> books, microfilm, and now digitization. Certainly, owning a Gutenberg
> Bible is far different from reading a paper back or faux leather low-cost
> Bible...or even keeping one in your vest pocket (but no one wears vests
> anymore). Not everyone has to have access to the original Gutenberg Bible.
> One interesting perspective of this value is that SMPTE in working up
> definitions for the new digital world created the word "essence" to mean
> the basic picture and sound information and "metadata" to describe all
> the ancillary data. The digitization project captures the essence of the
> cylinders and makes them available to all, in an egalitarian manner to a
> great degree. The only price of admission is a computer connection, and
> that can often be obtained gratis at the local public library. That
> aspect of the usage of this could be considered an updated inter-library
> loan model.
> I don't think that the "replacement" concept as in replacing horse and
> buggies with automobiles is valid for traditional libraries being
> replaced by computer networks. We still need the repositories for
> traditional the artifacts. What we might see are local libraries with
> limited and narrow collections (see below about "Rego Park") being
> replaced. Tom's point about the Bedford Hills Public Library was, I
> think, that it contained unique collections of artifacts that were not
> replicated elsewhere. Whether it be the local library, historical
> society, and/or museum that keeps these artifacts is immaterial. Here in
> Aurora, we have the library but we also have an Historical Society which
> has two museums (one under reconstruction as a true museum, the other a
> snapshot of a doctor's home office from the 1860s and on). There are many
> papers filed with the Historical Society that are not part of the Library
> collection, and it's indexed differently. We've been blessed with a very
> involved and caring curator who is retiring after about 25 years of
> giving to the Historical Society.
> On the other hand, if the Queensboro Public Library could extend its
> collection of material into peoples' homes via a computer network and
> make it more accessible than having to travel to Jamaica to find anything
> meaningful, wouldn't that be great? I do recall one or two very
> disappointing visits to the Rego Park branch (I lived in Forest Hills)
> that convinced me the schlepp on the E or F train and the walk was worth
> it to go to the main branch.
> So, please forgive my ramble, but I think I'm sort-of agreeing with you,
> but also looking at the merging of the technologies to better serve all
> people who are inquisitive.
> Now, if I could only impart my inquisitiveness to my two boys. Slowly, I
> think it's working...but it's frustrating. Often they prefer The World
> According to Disney to The Real World. I hope they understand the
> At 09:11 AM 3/25/2006, Marcos Sueiro wrote:
>> I must admit I am a bit surprised, if not shocked, to see a
>> discussion on the value of libraries in the ARSCList, of all places.
>> Come on people! We are talking about the repositories of human
>> knowledge!! We're talkin' Alexandria, Cordoba, Trinity College, so
>> on and so forth! Possibly one of the greatest ideas of humankind,
>> and an amazing gift to all of us. (I am convinced that if someone
>> came up with this idea today in the Western World, it would never
>> happen. Just imagine the publishers and record companies: "Wait a
>> minute. You are going to let people borrow this stuff for free? Are
>> you out of your mind????") Libraries are wonderfully anachronistic,
>> but also timeless. And while I applaud the idea of digitising
>> materials and making them available on the web, it cannot be a
>> library's primary function. Such a position I find between naive and
>> arrogant, assuming that computers, or something that can read
>> computer files, will be around forever. Maybe they will be, maybe
>> they won't. One thing we know for sure: Libraries have been around
>> for hundreds and hundreds of years, they seem to work, and have
>> changed the course of knowledge's history several times, by
>> revealing previous knowledge that was not popular at the time, but
>> that some inquisitive soul picked up (the Renaissance, anyone?).
>> I live in Queens, NY, whose public library system claims to have the
>> highest usage in the world, and I love to see people of all creeds,
>> colours, and ages populate its library branches. Engaging in one of
>> the most wonderful of human endeavours: the sharing of knowledge. For
>> There is only so much digitising one can do. Only the "useful" stuff
>> will be put up on the web. What you end up is with a generic
>> MacLibrary of knowledge, Google or not.
>> Keep the buildings open!!!
>> Ramblingly yours,
> Tape Restoration Seminar: MAY 9-12, 2006; details at Web site.
> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
> Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
> Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm