I have written before about the issue of ebooks, but I will again today because of one statement I keep hearing over and over. It continues to both crack me up and make me sad when people say, as if consoling me, that it must be difficult for me that ebooks are the new trend. Um, no, not really. While I am continuously surprised that I am considered a “techie”, ebooks are not breaking my heart at all. My concern, as I usually reply, is that the students are getting up-to-date, accurate information, not the format that it is in. With budget cuts a constant threat and limited funding available for consistency in annual database subscriptions, I kind of like the idea of building our own database through ebook subscriptions. I am now focusing on the unlimited, simultaneous access ebooks rather than checking out individual ebooks to students.
This statement also leads me to wonder if the misconception that ebooks are causing librarians’ hearts to shatter the world over is another product of the general public’s confusion about what libraries are. Do they think librarians cursed the book as it replaced the scroll? As I say in my header, libraries are not about books, but free access to information. They provide educational and entertainment opportunities to whomever wishes to take part. I have written before that I have become an ebook/ereader convert. While I value the editorial process, I don’t feel any loyalty to the format of the book. Whatever will keep my students on the right track and provide accurate, timely information gets my vote. Libraries are evolving.
However, there is one thing that does cause me to pause and reconsider my stance. I wish I could give credit to the article I read recently that planted this seed, but I don’t remember which one it was. Growing up there were always books in my house and we made trips to the library. Will future children be as enticed to read if there aren’t books lying around the house like they were for us?