Digital Format No Threat to Books

Just as radio, in its earliest days, was considered a threat to live musical performance, and television was thought to spell doom for radio programming, the burgeoning crop of digital readers such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad have some observers speculating on the dearth of traditional books and the libraries that house them.

Lance Query, dean of libraries and academic information at Tulane, says the emergence of electronic readers is slow to attract college students away from the stacks at Tulane libraries. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Lance Query, dean of libraries and academic information resources at Tulane, has a message for those who love to wander among the stacks of books in their favorite libraries: Don't worry about it.

"The existence of libraries isn't threatened by digital readers," says Query. "Sales of print books are at a high, and libraries always will be a cost-efficient way of information management."

Tulane's libraries currently have approximately 400,000 digital books available to students. Even so, says Query, students don't seem to be ready to abandon physical books as quickly as some had expected. While reading an article electronically may be convenient, most people would prefer to have an actual book for lengthier reads, he says.

"I care about getting more people reading, and it's great if a hand-held device accomplishes that," says Query, who points to the recent addition of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library's Learning Commons as an example of the library's investment in and commitment to new technology.

"I don't see us buying fewer books in the near future," says Query, "but I do foresee us having these devices available for lending."

Meanwhile, the Barnes and Noble bookstore on the uptown campus is taking orders for the company's Nook digital reader, which offers "shelf" space for up to 17,500 eBooks. Readers can manipulate the size of the text, bookmark pages and highlight passages.

For information on the Nook, visit the bookstore in the Lavin-Bernick Center or call 504-865-5913.