The library discussion group, LIBRef-L, discussed this topic
recently. See one of the messages at their archives at:
Virtual media have their place, but so do traditional media. After
a virtual only library is a "pervirted library" and their librarian
proponents are all pervirts. ;-)
Actually, I'm more interested in reading reports of why "virtual
only" libraries have failed, and why they most often end up buying books and
paper journals as well as electronic media. Alas! Most negative data are not
maintained, in either paper or electrons.
This topic often comes up since 1995, and I'm curious why. Eventually
the virtual library will have to change format (does anyone really believe
.pdf and .html will be the major formats twenty years from now?). At that
point, all those millions of pages will have to be reformatted again if they
want to remain in use. Talk about copyright and budget complications at that
point will be interesting.
At another research library, I remember with regret a large cabinet
filled with 5.25 diskettes that were unusable. Although after much work, a
5.25" diskette reader could be found, much of the data depended upon older
software that was no longer available for use, such as WordStar and DBase I.
Photocopying the front of the diskette would be about as much use as sending
it out on interlibrary loan.
The brand new Monterrey College in California was ballyhooed a few
years ago, as the president demanded a new library built from scratch that
wouldn't have any books at all, because all the students would get all their
information online. Didn't last long in the real world, since the annual
costs for access to off-site media were phenomenal, and the limitations on
what was available virtually were overwhelming.
Which brings up an interesting point- much of the business principles
of librarianship are cost effective work, since it is cheaper to have one
spot on campus where all the books are gather and kept for years, rather than
have all the professors and their students purchase what they need
individually, and which volumes leave the campus when they do.
Unless the library has control over the electronic version on their
own site with permission to reformat or copy to new servers as needed, they
are at the mercy of the owners increasing costs or denying access or not
maintaining the resource at all. At least when it's physically present, there
on the library shelf, it is most often a one-time deal, not an annual license
(Yeah, yeah, I know, you have a few exceptions and want to argue those
exceptions. Get real. You know what I mean.)
The computer has turned this message of library cost effectiveness on
its head by insisting that the library be based on access, most recently so
the library handles the bookkeeping of the electronic media that goes
directly to the student's desktop, where ever that is. I would have more
respect for this new vision, if the people who are having visions would also
cough up the money to pay for their visionary hallucinations. Are they
committed to pay over and over again for access to books and journal
The solutions for a virtual only library are all so easy. And cheap.
After all, nothing at all is impossible along as someone else pays the bills,
does all the work, and maintains all the equipment. Just ask any adolescent.
R. Lee Hadden
Geospatial Information Library (GIL)
Topographic Engineering Center
ATTN: CEERD-TO-I (Hadden)
7701 Telegraph Road
Alexandria, VA 22315-3864
[log in to unmask]
From: FEDLIB: Federal Librarians Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Freda McDonald
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2006 2:17 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Print v. Digital
Can I get copy too?
US Sentencing Commission
>>> [log in to unmask] 5/11/2006 1:42 PM >>>
If anyone has done a study of converting all or part of the library's
collection from print to digital, or has actually done so independent of
a study, please let me know. Thanks.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
1155 21st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20581