Sunday, November 13, 2005


The Decline of Libraries

W. Kendrick Pritchett, Pausanias Periegetes (Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben, 1998), p. viii:
It was my intention to extend my study of Pausanias to other aspects of religion than those treated in the present work, but the construction of a huge underground library, called a 'Teaching Library', with collapsible shelves, attended by the demolition of the stacks of the old library, once restricted to graduate students and faculty, the early retirement of almost all the old staff, who had some understanding of the needs of scholarship, due to financial difficulties in the budget, and the removal of all card files and their replacement by a computer system called Gladis, have proved to be a strong deterrent....For the circulation and shelving of books, the operation is entrusted to the inexperienced. The stacks are in disarray. One rarely visits them without finding misplaced books. When books are returned, relocating them presents a problem. Books by Sokolowski, Dodds, Guthrie, Dietrich, and others have been removed presumably for repair, bar-codes, reclassification, or some other reason without any indication on the computer.
Links added. I once offered a few suggestions for making academic libraries friendlier places. Some of them correspond to Pritchett's complaints.

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