Got a recent message from a fellow blogger (Dan Curtis) who forwarded an article from Time magazine that chilled my book-loving blood. It was all about the bookless library. Yep, a library without books. You heard me. For a book lover, this is not just nasty-sounding; it’s downright depressing. There is Drexel University’s new Library Learning Terrace, a library with NO books at all, just computers and seats. And there are half-way measures too: the vaunted Stanford University trimmed all but 10,000 volumes from its engineering library. The article asks whether a library is really a library without books. What an issue to debate: will it be the engineers and architects against old fogies like me who love the bound volume? Two quotes stand out in this article: One is from Michael Connelly, author of The Fifth Witness. He says the library is a “societal tent pole.” Knock out the pole and the tent comes crashing down. The other is from Norman Foster, the great architect: he is working on transforming the New York Public Library’s main branch, designing it specifically, he says, for “life beyond the book.”
Is there life beyond the book? Maybe. But then … what sort of life?