About two dozen faculty members and students, clutching signs that read “Don’t Gut the Library” and “Keep our books on campus,” picketed the administration building at Ohio State University yesterday, The Columbus Dispatch and the Associated Press reported. The protesters were upset over the culling of printed materials—275,000 books and other works, they said—from the university’s libraries between 2005 and 2008. Another 55,000 items have been discarded in the past four months, according to the picketers.
“What people here are concerned about is the idea of a research collection, much of which will never be digitalized,” John Burnham, a professor of history and one of the protesters, told The Chronicle in an e-mail message. He said that researchers in disciplines like African studies “are particularly concerned” that the materials they work with will not be available in digital form [Chronicle of Higher Education].
Consider this news item a warning. I predict that we will shortly reach a time in which it will no longer be acceptable for books to be discarded without being scanned into digital format first.
On a related note, whenever I start getting depressed about the news about the Kindle, or the Google Books settlement or how the Canadian Library Association sold off the rights to a massive Canadian historical newspaper collection to a private company who in turn sold it to Google, I try to turn my grief into something positive and start improving a page in The Open Library.