ATG Article of the Week: Save our Stacks

Save Our Stacks was just posted a couple of days ago by Rebecca Schuman an education columnist for Slate.  And while this is not a new issue, judging from the onslaught of emails we’ve received, it can still cause quite a stir – so we thought it might stir you up a bit too.

Ms. Schulman’s article expresses her concern about the “widespread move to re-appropriate library space in the age of digitization.”  She worries that as more and more books art carted off to remote storage, administrators will use the resulting library space “for events that bring in revenue, or entice students for the wrong reasons: food library-book-shelvescourts and Gaming lounges.”

However, while she counts herself among the “bookish sentimentalists” who want to save the stacks, she is also a realist and understands that once digital technology can “recreate, more or less, the experience of physical stacks, while exceeding their storage capabilities, all that remains is a sentimental argument, which will be a hard one to win.”

Nonetheless she thinks that books and the stacks that house them still matter.  She argues that they “are currently the university’s strongest, if not sole, signifier of a contemplative, intellectual space.”  And evidently, at least according to Ms. Schuman, may students agree.  While they may not use many of the books on these shelves, they want the scholarly ambiance that physical book collections provide.  As the summary of this article says “it’s not about the books. It’s about the books representing the last place on campus where intellectual contemplation thrives.”

 

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