Friday, February 25, 2005

Jeez, no wonder nobody uses libraries anymore

Michael Gorman, president-elect of the American Library Association, recently penned an essay for the ALA website that rips not only into bloggers but also Google's plan to digitize millions of scholarly texts. Among the laughably xenophobic quotes in the essay:

"Hailed as the ultimate example of information retrieval, Google is, in fact, the device that gives you thousands of 'hits' (which may or may not be relevant) in no very useful order."


"Speed is of the essence to the Google boosters, just as it is to consumers of fast 'food,' but, as with fast food, rubbish is rubbish, no matter how speedily it is delivered."


"...the thing to do with a scholarly book is to read it, preferably not on a screen." [Note: no reason given why reading a book on paper is inherently more useful than on a computer screen.]

Oh, and:

"It is obvious that the Blog People read what they want to read rather than what is in front of them.... I doubt that many of the Blog People are in the habit of sustained reading of complex texts."

And finally:

"If a fraction of [Google fans] were devoted to buying books... the effort would be of far more use to humanity and society."

Apparently, Mr. Gorman is not actually against the proliferation and dissemination of information in our society - he just wants it to continue to be done via paper, and for some unexplained reason sees the digitization of text as the fourth sign of the Apocalypse. As long as people like this are in charge of our nation's libraries, our nation's libraries will continue to become nothing but more and more irrelevant to our everyday lives. Tech-friendly librarians, I urge you to get this guy to stop being your official mouthpiece. (Thanks to for pointing this out.)