The digital age has transformed both the way libraries select, acquire, and provide access to our materials collections and the ways in which we instruct our millennial students in how to think critically about information in multiple formats. Libraries have historically been associated with books. But these days it isn’t even easy to know what a book IS. For example:
Cory Doctorow’s Makers was originally published online in 81 installments.
A very addictive electronic tile game was created from the original “book” illustrations. The the “real” book was published, and we added it to our collection. But we didn’t stop there. Some people would rather listen to books, so we also provide access to the downloadable audio version. And then there are those who swear by their Kindles, or nooks, or Sony Readers, and so we also want to be able to meet their needs. The Kindle edition is only $9.99, less than we paid for the printed book. But then, the original serial publication was (and is still) free. And neither the printed book nor the full-text electronic versions have the cool illustrations that accompanied the original publication. So what does this all mean for libraries? For the OWHL it means: redundant collection for the foreseeable future. It means active discovery of electronic alternatives to printed books, and the preparation of finding aids to connect our readers to those materials. I also opens up the possibility of purchase-on-demand, so that scarce resources can be allocated only to those materials that will definitely be used.