Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A musty old book

A nice piece from The Chronicle lamenting the movement among university libraries like U. Texas to replace books with electronic versions. No blogger can be a Luddite. But is there a lovelier experience than ambling through library stacks, flipping open a book at random, perusing a little passage, and then gliding to the next interesting-looking volume? Could there be a sweeter smell than the pages of a musty old book?

Call me old-fashioned, but a glaring computer screen can never replace a well-worn copy as a student’s best friend.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Yeah, and just try taking a computer screen into the can with you.

Don’t be so skeptical, John! Laptops and wireless networks let one do amazing things...

The $100 laptop is coming, so sell your printer stock.

I agree... with the state of current technology, trying to read a book on-screen is a generally unrewarding experience. But there is hope...

Electronic ink seems to be ever closer to becoming reality. This is a technology that will allow us to print up relatively inexpensive and reusable pages. Print a chapter or more at a time, turn the pages just like a real book, then when you’re done just "erase" them and they can be used again. Electronic Ink has already found limited applications in some large advertising displays.

If this ever really takes hold, it will be truly revolutionary, as many document paper copies that are circulated purely for informational purposes can be eliminated. I suppose it might be possible to give the copy a defined lifetime, so it will self-erase after some specified time period. The possibilities are mind-boggling!

Just my $.02

Perhaps not replace, but possibly to enhance. Think of all the lawyers who grumbled that nothing would ever take the place of the law in book form. Most continue to love the blue binding and the portability, but isn’t Lexis pretty convenient when you are trying to find little known case law...

Exactly right, Prof. Sikkenga. I still tell the story about a paper that I wrote in college for one of Dr. Schramm’s classes. I can’t remember whether that was the paper about Calvin Coolidge or the one about Woodrow Wilson; I think the latter. As I looked at the date stamps in the back of one of the many books that I checked out of the library, I discovered that the book had last been checked out in 1954.

At work a couple of weeks ago, one of the other law clerks was positively shocked to hear that I *always* go to the books for my research before I go to Westlaw. It’s actually easier to find what you’re looking for in the books and then use the computers to refine your search, rather than wading through an overwhelming number of cases online from the start.

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