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the future of libraries in the digital age

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Online resources threaten livelihood of libraries

What is the future of libraries when everything is going digital? Is digital the answer when budgets are tight and agencies are not only closing but restricting access to public documents? See what happens when 5 of the 26 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional libraries close due to budget restraints. Nature.com addresses these issues in an article posted online. Check out my blog for more details, or go to Nature.com for the article (full-text).

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I would say that we are living in a renaissance of libraries. What is the future? Great questions. It is exciting. We have the opportunity some changes that will have great impact. I think we've been debating the death of libraries for about 20 years, right? First, I think we have not hit the point where we see "everthing going digital." Second, we are already seeing the range of barriers to access to digital content. Who can afford to buy the wealth of digital content that is for sale? Who can help navigate?
Everything going digital? Far from it. First of all, there's way too much stuff to be digitized, secondly, much of the really interesting stuff to be digitized can't be done automatically (as in the case of scanning from microfilms) due to fragility, and most of all, copyright. Find me a legal site that has copyrighted music (e.g.) freely available. Unless a scheme arises that will satisfy copyright holders, it won't happen. Hence, people still need libraries.

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