The Future of Print: A Proposal

by | Nov 9, 2017 | 0 comments

Jim O'Donnell

Jim O’Donnell

Jim O’Donnell, Director of the Library, Arizona State University (ASU) described a proposal on the role of printed books in libraries. He noted that the National Union Catalog is on the shelves of many libraries. It is on the verge of obsolescence, but undergraduates rarely use it. Is this the future of the print book in our libraries? They should have a glorious future. ASU is building a new library facility, and the books are going to a storage facility, a fulfillment center from which books can be delivered rapidly to students. So a new generation of service is being invented. When the new library is done, 325,000 books are coming back, and the question is how do we keep them from becoming invisible. Which books come back? Where should they be stored? It is important to have books on the shelf where students can see them. Make our materials visible and usable. Emphasize special collections and put books on display at the entrance to the library.

A white paper, The future of the academic library print collection: A space for engagementwas written. We cannot do this alone. Read the white paper and think how this an have an effect in your library. Invent new ways to make the print book in a modern research library visible and usable.


Don Hawkins blogs about conferences for Information Today and Against The Grain. He also maintains the Conference Calendar on the Information Today website and is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, published by Information Today in 2013, and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits, published by Information Today in 2016. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked in the information industry for over 45 years.

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