Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Before Libraries Go Digital

The following letter-to-the-editor was printed this week in the Reston Connection. 

To the Editor:

It has been suggested that we don't need libraries or books anymore as everything is available digitally and on the Internet. All books are not available digitally and won't be for many years due to copyright laws. Libraries have to pay much more for digital books than they have to pay for print books. Cost-per-checkout can be 10 times higher for digital books. Much of the information on the Internet is inaccurate.

Before we throw away all our books and switch over to digital books in our libraries and schools we should wait to see the results of the ongoing European study to evaluate the effects of digitization on reading.

Fifteen European countries currently are engaged in a three-year emergency study to evaluate the evolution of reading in the age of digitization. COST, the European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research, has embarked on this study because it appears from current research that children do not learn as well when reading from digital screens vs. print books. Anne Mangen of Stavanger University in Norway is coordinating the study.

At a time when the future of the Reston Regional Library is in question, we need to be aware of this ongoing study and the potential effects of prematurely transitioning to digital books in our libraries and in our schools and the damage that could be caused to our children by that transition.

Kathy Kaplan
Fairfax Library Advocates

This is the link to the article:

This link has further information about the European COST study.

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