Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, commented today on Robert Darnton‘s New York Times Book Review article, “The Library in the New Age”, which appears in the June 12, 2008, issue.
An excerpt from Robert Darnton, speaking of Google’s worthy but tip-of-the-iceberg book project:
Meanwhile, I say: shore up the library. Stock it with printed matter. Reinforce its reading rooms. But don’t think of it as a warehouse or a museum. While dispensing books, most research libraries operate as nerve centers for transmitting electronic impulses. They acquire data sets, maintain digital re-positories, provide access to e-journals, and orchestrate information systems that reach deep into laboratories as well as studies. Many of them are sharing their intellectual wealth with the rest of the world by permitting Google to digitize their printed collections. Therefore, I also say: long live Google, but don’t count on it living long enough to replace that venerable building with the Corinthian columns.
An excerpt from Dr. Mohler:
Professor Darnton’s approach is very helpful — especially for those of us who bear the stewardship of libraries and institutions of higher learning. The future will be digital (or whatever replaces digital media), but the future will also need the library. The library will remain as a citadel, where books need no batteries and reading requires no Bluetooth or wireless technology. The spirit of scholarship will always be most at home among books, and the soul committed to learning will always find nourishment in the library.
On a related note, Microsoft has suspended progress on it’s Live Search Academic counterpart to Google Books and Google Scholar. Read about it here. Has Microsoft given up on search? This would indeed explain why they attempted to buy Yahoo!, but would also leave Google as the only mass-digitizer of library content. Once again, libraries will no doubt need to pick up the pieces and bring order to the mess.