“Let’s face it: the library, as a place, is dead,” said Suzanne E. Thorin, dean of libraries at Syracuse University. “Kaput. Finito. And we need to move on to a new concept of what the academic library is.”And there's more:
Despite the objections of “a minority of very loud faculty members,” Thorin said, the days of wandering through the stacks are over. “People,” she told the audience, of whom many were librarians, “the world has changed, and so have your students, and so have your faculty!”She's totally drunk the "digital native" Kool-Aid, hasn't she? Yeah, those pesky faculty members, with all their prattling on about "knowledge" and "humanities." If we could get rid of them, maybe we could afford a new espresso machine and maybe even some treadmills!
And here's something from Richard Luce: "“To interact with one another — to talk, to collaborate, to think, to communicate, to be with one another,” he said. “Isn’t that what we do in our best libraries?”" If you don't have any content to the information you're exchanging, or any permanence, you're transmitting chat. Libraries as Twitter? (Sorry, Twitter, but although I've seen "come see what I've done" tweets a lot, I haven't seen deep thoughts on there. It's more an alerting service for thoughts written elsewhere than a mode for transmitting ideas.)
I had a long argument one time in my one and only library science course (as an undergrad). I remember it because I was a terminally quiet student in this class, the kind everyone hates. "What's the function of the library?" the professor asked. My answer was vaguely Arnoldian--something about keeping books that people couldn't afford to buy, classics, keeping knowledge alive, best that has been thought and said. Nope! The purpose of the library is to serve the people, I was told. If they want 30 copies of Dan Brown, then that's what you buy, and if you have to chuck Dickens to do it, well, Dickens is toast.
Miriam Burstein (Little Professor) calls this a thought experiment. I'd call it a thoughtless one.
[Edited so I sound more rational on this topic; I could hardly be less so.]