Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Serendipity in the Library

OK, well maybe not right here.

The Joy of Going to the Library.  (Wired, 10/4/2011)

Excerpt:    That experience of coming across books and publications that happen to be physically nearby is something that the digital world is having a hard time recreating. Michael Welland has a lovely post about this experience of serendipity in the library:

One of the many arguments in favour of good old-fashioned libraries – the bricks and mortar, hardcopy, poking-around-in-the-stacks variety – is the un-measurable element of serendipity: things you happen upon when looking for something else

Journal articles and databases can add online features similar to Amazon’s if-you-like-this-you’ll-probably-also-like-this, which is great, I definitely want that, but it’s not the same as coming across something interesting simply because it caught your eye as you scanned the shelves. I’m not sure digital libraries will ever be able to recreate this, which is okay. I like having a reason to leave my little burrow and take a stroll across campus to the library. Perhaps I’ll find something interesting there today.

Brian Romans is the author of the brief Wired piece.

No comments: