At the library

The DOI system is great and all, and I love being able to access nearly the entire scientific literature without having to leave my desk. But there’s something wonderful about looking up a textbook with no full-text access online, and instead walking down to the uni library with a Dewey decimal number scrawled on a sticky note. Pacing through the shelves of books, finding the one I want, taking it down, and smelling it.

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4 thoughts on “At the library

  1. Maybe it’s just because of the fact that I grew up with them rather than this new-fangled tiknologee that I, too, prefer to read from books. There’s nothing quite like the tantalising smell of a book, I think.

  2. It’s also the haptics: A paper book is quicker scanned and leaved through than an electronic book, esp. when it’s full of formulas. And the electronic search often enough fails at ligatures (when “fi” is one glyph) or ümlauts. My own books are also full of dog-ears and post-its so I can quickly revisit the important pages.

    Last but not least, what can make a library book invaluable are the marginals and corrections added by its users.

  3. I love real books too, the smell, the markers, the ability to reach something on a shelf or (all too often) in a pile, without turning on a machine. (And in a power outage: longer ones are becoming all too common).

    Glad to see you back!

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