I love books. No, not e-books or even audiobooks. I love book books. Paper ones. With pages. You remember those, right?
Why? They are right there, in front of you. They have heft. A lot of them have pretty covers. I can go back and find a page I need to and it’s right there in front of me. For work-related reading, I’ve always found reading in print is easier for me and better – I can mark up the page, I can see statutory sections and indentions better, I have it forever in my files.
I do not own a Kindle or Nook or iPad, as you might imagine. I think I might be one of the only people in this country without one. I don’t want to read on a screen. I often spend my day at work doing that, and I don’t particularly like it, so why would I want to read books for pleasure on a screen?
And what’s interesting (ok, to me; hopefully you’re still reading at this point – you are, right? Please? Anyway…) is that paper books do kind of contradict my environmental bent. It would save countless trees not to have as many paper books. Yet I cannot seem to break away from them and devote my reading time to a screen.
But the times, they are a changin’…
I am in the midst of planning my school year and, in particular, this semester’s research classes. For the first time in the eleven years I’ve had this job, we don’t have some book resources from which to teach how to research. For example, in one class, I tell my students that, if they know nothing about what they are researching, they should find a secondary source for a general treatment of the topic. Something like a legal encyclopedia, treatise, or law review article.
But now we’ve just learned that the legal encyclopedias have gone the way of the World Book. They are no longer updated in our library. The students can get them online, updated and ready to go.
The same is true for other sources as well. Not all statutory codes are updated in print now. Print is going the way of dinosaurs and the Ford Pinto and VCRs. Extinct.
I’m not sure how I feel about all this. I mean, on the one hand, it’s progress, right? All that information at your fingertips…just a search away from finding all sorts of stuff. And you can do it in your jammies.
On the other hand, though, I feel like there will be less of a need for conscious research. In other words, online researching is starting to be more google-esque, which means that people/students don’t necessarily have to think hard about what they are looking for before they start looking. And that usually makes for imprecise and often misleading research.
There’s much more here that I could go into – about why I loved (past tense – gasp!) book research and why it made sense to learn research in the books before learning online research, etc. I won’t bore you with that. I am just grappling with how to teach my students how to research in a time that is different from when I learned to research and with sources that are so different than the paper books. They won’t necessarily understand why this is a major shift to me; they grew up on the computer, after all.
I, on the other hand, am faced with the idea of letting go of the paper. I think I finally have to succumb to the screen and realize that this is the way it’s gonna be. But I don’t have to like it.
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