Full Circle to the Dark Ages?

To explain the term ‘call number’, I tell my students about traditional library service in the ‘old days’: where the librarian stood behind a counter and ‘called out the number’ of a requested tome to a page in a back room where the books were all kept. “Still,” states History Magazine, “libraries remained the domain of the learned: teachers, scientists, scholars”.

When they hear this, my students are appalled: to not have the freedom to browse the shelves for the perfect book seems completely barbaric!

And yet, now, with the potentially universal freedom to browse the unlimited quantity of a full range of quality internet material, one library has chosen to again remove the books from public access and replace them with a “so-called red room: a space filled with more than 100 plastic red crates, where students can pick up books they requested online”. Tradition seems to have gone full circle with a distinct digital twist.

Granted, this is a college library where students are still presumably able to get the traditional library experience at their local public library but I am nonetheless saddened to view the cold, sterile and to me uninviting space where students are expected to be inspired.

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