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“book is dead”, “libraries are obsolete” and other myths

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  1. The book is dead.” Wrong: More books are produced in print each year than in the previous year. One million new titles will appear worldwide in 2011 (…) And the book business is booming in developing countries like China and Brazil. However it is measured, the population of books is increasing, not decreasing, and certainly not dying
  2. “We have entered the information age.”  No one would deny that the modes of communication are changing rapidly, perhaps as rapidly as in Gutenberg’s day, but it is misleading to construe that change as unprecedented
  3. “All information is now available online.” The absurdity of this claim is obvious to anyone who has ever done research in archives. Only a tiny fraction of archival material has ever been read, much less digitized. Google books has digitized only 12% of the existing books.
  4. Libraries are obsolete. Everywhere in the country (the US)  librarians report that they have never had so many patrons. (…) Libraries never were warehouses of books. While continuing to provide books in the future, they will function as nerve centers for communicating digitized information at the neighborhood level as well as on college campuses.
  5.  The future is digital. True enough, but misleading. In 10, 20, or 50 years, the information environment will be overwhelmingly digital, but the prevalence of electronic communication does not mean that printed material will cease to be important. (…) new modes of communication do not displace old ones, at least not in the short run

Darton, Robert. 5 myths about the “information age”. the Chronicle review.  April 17, 2011. Online at:

Illustration: Chronicle Review

Written by hbasset

April 18, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Posted in Information

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