I guess I'll just end this long discussion on libraries to mention that
my small metropolitan area of less than 100,000 has just built a new branch
library costing over $1,000,000. They have a permanent tax base and use the
money to stock the latest CDs and DVDs as well as books, both audio and
print. And both the main library and the branch are always busy. As a
library user for over 75 years I was impressed when I first moved here 26
years ago and I am still impressed today with the operation of the library.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Richter" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, March 27, 2006 2:33 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Zits cartoon strip, or, a personal rambling rant
> Karl Miller wrote:
>> So what is the library's primary function? They don't have the expertise
>> or the salary base to provide first class digitisation. They can't mount
>> their holdings for downloads unless they have copyright or if it is
>> domain. If a library is about books, then you
>> probably need a building. If it is about information, you probably don't
>> need such a big building.
> This seems straightforward, even simplistic, but I suggest that it is not.
> What is the information contained in a book? As I tried to point out with
> my quote from GBS, a book is more than the text it contains. It is
> typography, illustrations, binding and more. The Book of Kells is a volume
> of information but it is more a work of art independent of its content.
> Sound preservation provides a more extreme case; much of the discussion on
> this list is of the form: what information is to be preserved about this
> instance/recording? That, too, is on two levels: the information inherent
> in the recorded sound and that about the recording. It is not immediately
> obvious that the volume (say on CD) required to store the information on
> an LP is less than the volume of the LP itself. A similar case in books
> would be one of those microscopically engraved volumes whose content and
> full description might well be larger than the pinhead on which it is
> The library as a lending institution is about information, not about
> books. The historic medium of lending was the book, but that has been
> changing over recent decades. Here is the first place where copyright
> becomes a key issue in both books and recordings. The library is also a
> repository; in that sense it is only about books, sound recordings and
> other physical media. The library is also a research institution and as
> such is almost exclusively about information. Even for a work of art, such
> as a book, the researcher is seeking its properties, not its esthetics per
> se. In audio, the corresponding properties may be recording and
> publication data.
> None of the above will be news to the subscribers here, but it may clarify
> what seem to be differences of opinion. In my judgement, they are at most
> differences of emphasis which can confuse because simple terms such as
> "library" are used in different senses.
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