Debate at N.Y. Public Library Raises Question: Can Off-Site Storage Work for Researchers?
Nothing disturbs print-centric researchers like the idea of kicking books out of a library to make room for computers. The New York Public Library set off a fierce debate recently with its plans for a major reorganization. The proposed overhaul, known as the Central Library Plan, includes selling two midtown branches and moving many of the three million books now housed under the main reading room at 42nd Street to a remote-storage facility in New Jersey. The library shares the facility in a consortium arrangement, called Recap, with Columbia and Princeton Universities.
Anthony T. Grafton, a professor of history at Princeton University, summed up researchers' anxiety in a commentary published in the student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, this month. "My stomach hurts when I think about NYPL, the first great library I ever worked in, turned into a vast Internet cafe where people can read the same Google Books, body parts and all, that they could access at home or Starbucks," he wrote.
The library promises that materials sent to Recap will be safely stored and quickly accessible—usually within 24 hours—to patrons who request them. Critics say that remote storage doesn't work so well in practice, and that the wrong message is sent by taking books out of the heart of the library....
comments powered by Disqus
- Former spokesman of B.C. anti-immigration group wants UBC history prof fired
- Harvard's Steven Shapin Wins History of Science Award
- Middle East Studies Association Fights a Rising Tide of Critics
- Juan Cole says the postwar Middle East governments were modeled on the Soviet Union, though not communist (interview)
- Ted Widmer picks the 5 best presidential books worth reading