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The Fully Electronic Academic Library® - Oh Really?

.: Has anyone read the v67 n1 January 2006 issue of College & Research Libraries? The lead article is titled The Fully Electronic Academic Library®, by Norman D Stevens, Director of the infamous Molesworth Institute. The abstract reads:

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.
Stevens describes how the Molesworth Institute was commissioned in December 2000 to develop a plan for the new library of the Ezra Beesley University (EBU), which will accept its first students in 2007. By emphasizing cost-effective applications of IT, EBU's students will not use textbooks. To avoid major start-up costs, EBU will construct its own wind farm to generate power to run the campus.

Following a meeting of trhe Fellows of Molesworth Institute in April 2004, it was decided that EBU's Edmund Lester Pearson Library (ELP) would be an electronic library only - no books or paper products of any kind would be available. Stevens notes:

The ELP Library will contain no printed books or other printed material of any kind. Those constraints will apply to book substitutes (for example, microforms) and other specialized formats that require specialized mechanical equipment (for example, films, sound recordings and videos). No one, including staff, will be allowed to bring any of those materials into the library. That rule will be strictly enforced, and contraband will be seized at the entrances and destroyed on the spot. All information resources will be available only in digital formats and accessible only electronically. Paper will not be allowed within the library. The library will have no photocopy machines, no computer printers, no provision for the receipt of mail (the library will not have a mailing address), and no wastebaskets or recycling bins. Neither staff nor users will be allowed to bring notebooks or any other form of paper into the library. Only personal data assistants, computers, and other paper-free devices may be used to bring information into the building. This will require users to and staff to use their imagination rather than simply to print out copies of information to take home that they might never look at again. There will be hot air dryers, not paper towels, in the unisex rest rooms, which will feature the paperless Washlet toilets developed by TOTO that have a heated seat, a streamlined wand that provides a warm, aerated flow of water, and a warm air dryer.
Other important points to note:
  • So that the ELP Library can operate on a 24/7/365 cycle, it will only ever close on February 29th.
  • minimum starting salary will be $100,000
  • the arcade which connects the library to a classroom building will feature a changing moving light and sound show similar to one in Las Vegas
  • seating options will include "...club and lounge chairs, soft foam cubes and beanbags, bar stools and high tables, and hammocks."
This is hilarious stuff, the kind Stevens has been writing for decades. What's really weird is that there is no editorial in this issue, which might have explained why the article was published. It's hilarious, and I wonder how many readers might have taken it seriously.

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