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Old 07-28-2010, 09:11 AM   #1
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Toronto Star: City libraries phasing out reference books

Occasionally there is debate here on whether libraries should focus on attentions "under privileged" rather than ebooks. Here's a story about libraries making hard choices on how (and why) they are reducing their print collections.

(However, no comments on ebooks specifically. Toronto Public Library has a nascent, but growing, collection of ebooks for circulation using the Overdrive system.)

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/arti...t-of-libraries

“It’s a whole industry trend, it reflects the whole trend of people looking for more of their information online,” says Susan Caron, manager of collection development for the Toronto Public Library.

“We’re moving to more online, more electronic resources, as the titles shift from print to electronic.”
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Old 07-28-2010, 10:58 AM   #2
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They can phase out reference books without denying poor people access, because libraries offer computer use, and reference books aren't usually loaned out. You use them at the library. With other books, people without computers have no access once they leave the library.
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Old 07-28-2010, 11:13 AM   #3
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Wikipedia for all

I expect we will see changes like this more and more. As information migrates away from paper, the use of paper will recede.

So I guess we will read about this transition for the next 20 years or so, and each step of the way will be someone who is used to paper and decries its loss. What fun.
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Old 07-28-2010, 01:01 PM   #4
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This is also a chicken and egg problem. The publishers are cutting back on reference titles due to the consuming public cutting back due to Wikipedia etc, so even if libraries wanted to order them, publishers aren't printing them, or they're hiking prices because of smaller print runs.
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Old 07-28-2010, 01:16 PM   #5
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It's not just the library is buying fewer reference books in print. They are actually removing existing ones, at least, according to the story.

"Dana Zboch, a librarian at the Locke branch library on Yonge St. near Lawrence Ave. says that city libraries are clearing out many of the under-used reference titles it used to hold."
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Old 07-28-2010, 01:54 PM   #6
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There are lots of great online resources that are paid-access, and most libraries offer access to them. Many of them will replace book and periodical collections. Fortunately, the people of Toronto won't be thrown upon the tender mercy of Wikipedia for all their information.
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Old 07-28-2010, 01:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by SensualPoet View Post
It's not just the library is buying fewer reference books in print. They are actually removing existing ones, at least, according to the story.
That doesn't sound like a good idea, and, imho, kind of undermines the very idea of the public library making even specialized knowledge accessible to everyone, regardless of income or ability to travel (virtually or physically) to find things out.

I hope they at least keep copies at the bigger/main branches.
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Old 07-28-2010, 02:51 PM   #8
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It's not just the library is buying fewer reference books in print. They are actually removing existing ones, at least, according to the story.

"Dana Zboch, a librarian at the Locke branch library on Yonge St. near Lawrence Ave. says that city libraries are clearing out many of the under-used reference titles it used to hold."
Well, reference books get out of date, and if the publisher isn't printing new ones, the old ones should go. I like flipping through old encyclopedias for the historical and entertainment value, but I won't want my kids referencing one for research for school.
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:06 PM   #9
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If the older reference books aren't being used, the space should probably be cleared for something that will be used by the library's patrons.

I own several large dictionaries and other reference books, and while I'm not throwing them away, I don't really use them much anymore. Electronic resources are often easier to search and more up to date.
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:34 PM   #10
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I fell like the retired librarian - I didn't want to give up my print tax reference books. Well, I didn't have any choice. They took them away, and I had to adapt. I still would prefer paper, and I usually print stuff out anyway. So we will be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age one way or another.
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Old 07-28-2010, 06:07 PM   #11
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I guess I am not seeing the advantage of paper for things like research journals. I used to write papers this way back in the stone ages of 1996 And you had to use an electronic search engine to find relevant articles (we had progressed that far, at least) and then record a call number, go rooting through the stacks to find the bound journal area and that title, and that call number etc. And then if someone had beat you to it, oh well (and this was common in undergraduate classes where we all had the same assignments and same pool of books to choose from). I think it would be much better to have it all in a big electronic database, with a site license for the school. I could do my search and read all the articles on the spot. I would still have to do the learning, the reading, the analyzing etc. I am just not seeing why I should remain so attached to the paper in such a case and why it would somehow be a superior experience.
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Old 07-28-2010, 06:58 PM   #12
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The library is -- it seems -- getting ridding of stuff without directly replacing it (scanning for example) but substituting online references. Dated reference material will have future value to historians -- think of city directories.

Imagine a city block of Edwardian homes torn down for condos. You get better, more modern housing, safer more fire proof dwellings -- more housing even -- but something is lost instead of maintaining and upgrading the old.

I fully support more ebooks, and online references. But sometimes improvements lose things.
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Old 07-28-2010, 07:11 PM   #13
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Reference materials are very expensive and quickly out date. If they offer online databases and other sources that are up-to-date then it's an even switch.

Most professors require sources to be current in assigned term papers. If students couldnt use the library's reference offerings then it's of very little value.
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Old 07-28-2010, 07:26 PM   #14
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I guess I am not seeing the advantage of paper for things like research journals. I used to write papers this way back in the stone ages of 1996 And you had to use an electronic search engine to find relevant articles (we had progressed that far, at least) and then record a call number, go rooting through the stacks to find the bound journal area and that title, and that call number etc. And then if someone had beat you to it, oh well (and this was common in undergraduate classes where we all had the same assignments and same pool of books to choose from). I think it would be much better to have it all in a big electronic database, with a site license for the school. I could do my search and read all the articles on the spot. I would still have to do the learning, the reading, the analyzing etc. I am just not seeing why I should remain so attached to the paper in such a case and why it would somehow be a superior experience.
I use digital versions of journals to write my papers now, and it's much easier than it was before I had access to them. I appreciate the aesthetics argument, but for certain categories of references, I really do think electronic versions work better.
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