All the print journals, and all print books in closed stacks, have been moved from my little library. We started monday, and was finished friday. More or less, the materials have not yet been placed on their new shelfes at our main library. Now we’re just waiting to get rid of all the empty shelfes, and getting the new furniture for our students. More than 220 square meters for them! The students are looking forward to it, the faculty are worried that it’ll get to cozy at the library, and that the students will be late for classes. Yay!
Is everything just nice and great? No. It is strange, even for the former ebook-coordinator at the royal library, to see all the empty shelfes. Print books and journals have a permanence, that communicatets solidity and symbolises the scientific progress and knowledge in a way that digital ressources simply cannot. At least to people who grew up in the last millenium.
Moving print materials from open to closed stacks also symbolizes the changing world of libraries. We have always been the keepers of knowledge, and paper was the tangible symbols of that knowledge. We know that our mission is to provide access to information, and we know that we are able to do that much more efficiently with digital than with print materials. But it feels profoundly strange to relegate a couple of hundred years accumulated knowledge to closed stacks.
I sincerely believe that this is the future. I believe that the students will get better service even if we move the print material. But it still feels strange.