My last post about libraries got me thinking. Libraries are trying to change to adapt to the times, but are all the changes for the better? Here's one example: the new University of Chicago library will have no books that you can browse. When you want a book, you go to a computer terminal, click on the the listing of the book you want, a robotic arm in an underground chamber brings up a metal box that contains the book you want and about a hundred others to the circulation desk. The librarian pulls out the book you want and has it waiting for you at the circulation desk. It should take about five to ten minutes. All very high-tech and wonderful, but it saddens me. For me, part of the joy of going to the library is to browse what's on the shelves. To be looking for a book and find a better one is pure joyous serendipity. To have to know what you're looking for before you find it would for me kill a lot of the joy of the library. Yes, the new U of C library is better for the staff and the books, but is it really better for the patron?

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