As usual, I was perusing over at BoingBoing, one of the top online sites for years, when I found this poster of desperation:
The photo is from a University Library poster created by the author of “Fool’s Gold: Why the Internet is no Substitute for a Library” by Mark Y. Herring. The book is available from Amazon for $45 which, based on this poster, is a bigger waste of paper than a stack of Paris Hilton posters. Strangely they also have a ebook version available for only $16.49, partially invalidating the book’s message.
I do have a giant bias: I love Libraries, particularly University Libraries. Most of my research was done in libraries, and I still visit as many as I can. I do not understand why anyone would spend $200 to go to a sporting event, as opposed to zero to go to a library. I agree with the author’s premise fully, but the arguments are hogwash and comical in their presentation. Looking at all 10 arguments in order:
1. Not everything is on the internet: Yes, excellent point to start. Then again, not everything is available in a library. This argument is convincing to those who have already finished reading the internet. Completely ran out of things to read online, please find me more. Kthxbye. Geez, I found this poster online, is it really available in every library?
2. Drown online, difficult to find answer within the many answers returned in search engine: Oh no, scary computer doesn’t give me what I want, better go to the library so I can use the card catalog. Hmmm, not here. Better ask the librarian who has a search engine on her computer. Oh, whoops. First point was that not enough is online, second is that too much is online. Off to a good start.
3. Quality control doesn’t exist, conspiracy theory, pornography, ghosts, Hitler, demons, boo: The last few libraries I went into had books available by Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck. Everything I read online is at least as accurate as those books. and far less pornographic. I don’t want a library to QC the books, especially not someone like Mr. Herring. It’s called censorship.
4. Online articles are not full text, like a race car without the keys: Starts ok. The only thing I know online that leaves out important notes, graphs, citations, etc, is the poster shown above. Then? Race car? Your audience are book readers, not NASCAR fans. If you drew a Venn diagram of race car fans and people who visit University libraries, it would look like Ellen Page’s tits, slightly touching but hardly overlapping. (just assume I didn’t spend the last hour trying to but together a simple Venn diagram before giving up and using a tasteless Pop culture analogy instead)
5. States can buy a book to give to libraries online, NOT: Stupid 80’s phrases aside, why is receiving a book online bad? Sure it isn’t nearly enough and unfair copyright laws hurt libraries, but the sign looks offended by the offer. Sad sign :O(
6. Reading ebooks is a chore: I can read the complete works of Shakespeare on my iPhone – you want to try that with full text books on the subway? Also, ‘a generation away’ is only a few years in this new eVerse.
7. No library-less universities: At this point, I peed myself laughing. Princeton University hasn’t demolished their libraries yet, so they are better than the internet? Almost 100% of Universities were created before the last few years, yet they are almost all online in some capacity, or planning to do so. Another example of faulty logic.
8. Billion dollars to digitize a library of books: How many competing quotes did Mark get? No, seriously, why would anyone need to scan every page from a library? Many have already been done and are already available online. I would send my copy of the complete works of Shakespeare to Mr. Herring if it wasn’t so full of conspiracy theory and pornography.
9. Most of what’s on the internet is less than 15 years old: …and much is older than that. If you read my blog, you saw that I have referenced all decisions of the US Supreme Court ever, available online. So much more is available through a simple search. Mark Y. Herring is being deceptive or ignorant. I can’t tell which. BTW how many Millions of dollars does Herring think it cost to put the Supreme Court Decisions online?
10. Internet is ubiquitous but books are portable: More crap. I can go hiking and stop to read either Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare, or the friggin Iliad on my iPhone. You can’t put all those books in your backpack. EBooks are much more portable than traditional books. I too love taking my paperback Rex Stout book with me on trips, but I am not deceived into thinking it’s more than an emotional connection. Young’ins are getting that same connection with eBooks now.
Please don’t listen to Mark Why Herring. Libraries are helpful, important, and need resources. Visit your local public library and university library and ask how you can help. Many have online websites that facilitate donations. Here is an excellent site for Princeton Public Library. Most library representatives are doing all they can to educate us – don’t punish them because of one idiot.
Photo of Mark Y. Herring courtesy of demotivationals4U.