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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Digital libraries...the pitfalls.

Some of you may have read the recent articles about digitizing public libraries, doing away with print copy completely. Now, I'm all for technological progress, but I think this is wrong.

For me, libraries are all about books, paper ones. They are places we can go to take in the smell of the ink, and the touch of the pages under your fingers; but there is another reason, albeit a rather paranoid one.

What if there was some sort of disaster, either natural or man-made? How would we rebuild if all knowledge is lost to us?

A very good friend of mine, Zeecé Lugo, has written such a scenario into her series of books, set in what she has called ‘The Daniel’s Forks universe.’ The books are set in a future devastated by a global pandemic. Up until now, they have been a mixture of romance and mystery, with very little detail on what actually happened.

This has changed in her upcoming novel, which goes back to a time shortly after the event. I’ve been privileged enough to read the first few chapters, and the subject of digital libraries appears here.

Decades from now, print books have all but disappeared, but with the end of civilization, and electricity etc, so have all the digital copies. The task of rebuilding the world as we know it has been rendered impossible, due to even the simplest of jobs becoming an unknown art.

Print books are now the most precious commodity in this world, but the libraries that would normally have held these repositories of knowledge are now gone. Why shouldn’t they be, when ‘the Cloud’ held everything ever printed? But now the Cloud has blown away.

This is why I think the libraries are doomed if they digitize. They should remain a haven for bookworms everywhere.

One a slightly separate note, Zeecé has one of her books on special offer over the next few days. Strongheart’s Woman is a sexy romance, set in this future universe, decades after the event. It shows the way the lack of knowledge has affected the lives of the survivors. The world has become a simpler place, and Zeecé’s tagline, ‘Welcome to the future past,’ serves well. It’s frightening in its realism and probability.

Will this ever happen? I truly hope not, but they way the human race is going, we risk total technological breakdown.