Monday, December 07, 2009

Belanger on Books

An article featuring a profile of Terry Belanger appeared in the 5 December Chronicle of Higher Education, and can be found in full here (original version here, requires login). It's a very interesting piece, and captures nicely the attitude I think many of us "biblio-folk" have about printed books and their place in a "digital world."

Some of the many useful quotes from the piece: "I see the Web and everything it stands for as being an immense improvement over our old arrangements. It's absurd to sit around sentimentalizing about the decline of the book in the face of the kind of knowledge that the Web now gives us, and the research it allows us to do."

Of course, Belanger notes, digital reproductions won't necessarily do the trick, for future students of book history: "They need their own shot at the past from original materials in the same way that we did. Each generation needs to rediscover the past in its own way, using its own improved technology for that purpose."

The article makes the important point (that can't be made enough, I think, in these days of worry about the future), that "books do certain things well and digital technologies do other things well. The two should coexist without trying to eliminate each other."


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