Electronic lending and public libraries: Folding shelves
PLASTERED on the wall of San Francisco’s main public library are 50,000 index cards, formerly entries in the library’s catalogue. The tomes they refer to may be becoming decorative, too. Not only can library patrons now search the collection online, they may also check out electronic books without visiting the library. For librarians, “e-lending” is a natural offer in the digital age. Publishers and booksellers fear it could unbind their business.
Worries about the effect of libraries on the book trade are not new. But digital devices intensify them.