Crossposted From Under the Fig Tree
Remember the plaintive Pete Seeger song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” In the wake of a recent research trip to the New York Public Library, I’m inclined to sing a similar song of lament about the fate of the book and call it “Where Have All the Books Gone?”
The much-bruited about renovation of this storied library has been in the news a lot lately, generating considerable controversy along the way. Its champions insist that relocating millions of volumes to an off-site storage facility will result in a new and improved library, one that meets the challenges of the digital age head-on. Its detractors insist that’s a lot of hooey or, worse still, that the library’s plan sounds the death knell for serious scholarship.
Until now, I found myself in the middle of these two camps, cautiously adopting a wait-and-see attitude. But no more. So dreary, alienating and downright disheartening was last week’s visit to the New York Public Library that I now cast my lot with the naysayers.