Norman D. Stevens
This description of the planning for the ﬁrst academic library to contain only electronic resources, and no books and no paper of any kind, is derived from the limitless possibilities of our imagination. The concept of such a library and the dramatic changes it will bring in collections, budgets, stafﬁng, services, and buildings are outlined in detail. Finally a few questions are raised as to whether such a library will best serve the information needs of academic institutions in the twenty-ﬁrst century. So let us think kindly of those who would frighten us by slogans and catch-words about the great and growing mass of the world’s literature, and of those who would take pity on our benighted state to solve all of our problems with machines they have not yet thought about.1
lthough, historically, most libraries began as collections of “books” in a single format, almost every library has been faced sooner or later with the problem of how to handle information in other formats. In ancient times, a library of tablets had to deal with scrolls and then a library with scrolls had to deal with codices. As new information formats, such as motion pictures and sound recordings, emerged in the early 1900s, many libraries were reluctant to add such unproven technologies to their collections. But by the
end of the twentieth century, almost all libraries had enthusiastically embraced a full range of new technologies while still maintaining sizeable book collections. Most libraries are still challenged by the necessity to handle materials in a wide variety of formats assisted by a wide variety of machines of one kind or another. It has been diﬃcult for libraries to achieve even a portion of the real cost savings that information technology might oﬀer; instead, the cost of new information technology is an addition to, not a substitute for, existing costs.
Norman D. Stevens is Director, The Molesworth Institute, and