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Libraries are meant to hold books, not e-readers

Kerrie Sutton, Opinion Writer
October 2, 2013
Filed under Opinion

In the past, the pages of books were burned to eliminate their contents. Now, we may be removing the pages from libraries altogether.

A 4,000 square-foot library in San Antonio, Texas opened its doors to the public Sept. 13. According to Time Magazine’s Josh Sanburn, the $2.4 million library houses 10,000 e-books, 500 e-readers, 48 computers and 20 iPads.

Basically, they built one huge computer lab.

“E-books remain the fastest-growing part of the book market but account for only about 20 percent of all sales reported by publishers,” said USA Today writer Bob Minzesheimer.

For me, there’s nothing like sitting in a big, slouchy chair in a comfy sweater and pulling out my hardcover of “My Lobotomy” by Howard Dully or any other of my latest fascinating non-fiction finds.

Others, like Matthew Schneps of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Laboratory for Visual Learning, find e-books beneficial. According to Popular Science writer Dan Nosowitz, dyslexics, who make up 5-17 percent of readers, could be aided by this technology.

Schneps concluded from his study of 103 dyslexic Boston high school students that both speed and understanding were significantly improved from e-readers versus print books, Nosowitz said.

Michael Pastore names 30 reasons e-books are helpful in an article in EPublishers Weekly, which include how accessible they are, their convenience, their ability to be shared and their ability to be downloaded instantly.

I agree with the benefits Pastore introduces with technology making reading more convenient and more accessible.

However, some traditionalists like myself are married to the aesthetic feel of turning pages and the weight and texture of the paper in our fingers. It’s an experience to read a paper book.

“There is physicality in reading,” said Maryanne Wolf, a professor of the Eliot-Pearson Dept. of Child Development and director of the Center for Reading and Language Research in an article written by Ferris Jabr in American Scientific. “Maybe even more than we want to think about as we lurch into digital reading—as we move forward perhaps with too little reflection. I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms, but know when to use the new.”

Nelson Wolf, Bexar County Judge and visionary for the digital library, doesn’t even own an e-reader though, according to Sanburn. The judge collects first editions of modern print books and refuses to get technological with reading.

It sounds contradictory when someone wants to create a digital library but doesn’t use the technology himself.