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Library Advantages

Electronic books mean that libraries need not keep large and expensive stores of bulky and decaying paper. Libraries can shrink from large warehouses to small rooms. And catalogs can be electronic, electronically updatable, and computer generatable, making them easier, faster, and cheaper to search, produce, and update. Libraries will not need to buy multiple copies to allow for book scuffing, book destruction, or to place one book in several categories. Nor will they need binderies to bind journals or magazines into volumes, or to rebind old books. Nor will they need reshelvers. Also, the library can more easily refer readers to other books with similar subjects, tastes, or interests.

Libraries will not need to chemically treat their decaying books, microfilm them, or transcribe them to Braille, large-print, or audio. All transformations are easier with electronic books. Currently, the Library of Congress can afford to transcribe only 2,000 new books and 1,000 new periodicals a year. Out of its 20 million books, it carries only 30,000 in alternate formats.

Gregory J. E. Rawlins