Identity Crisis In The Stacks

Mar 24 2012 @ 3:44pm

The New York Public Library is planning a renovation, called the Central Library Plan (CLP), that would move about 3 million books to New Jersey to make room for more computers. Caleb Crain decries the move despite its popularity among members:

Libraries should offer computer access, but it would be risky to stake too much of the library's identity on providing a particular technological service. Technologies change, and lately they've been changing quickly: witness all the now-little-used Ethernet ports in the tables of the third-floor reading room. What if the mayor's office were to decide a decade from now to provide city-wide wireless internet access? What if a decade from now, almost everyone has a smartphone and almost no one uses a laptop let alone a desktop computer? Then what would the purpose of the new CLP library be?

Crain also argues that the shift will especially hurt scholars who depend on the great research center.