the future of the library

At the New Yorker, Anthony Grafton pursues the future of the library. I was shocked to read Grafton recount that a Cambridge University Press editor told him recently that "Conservatively, ninety-five per cent of all scholarly inquiries start at Google." But Grafton’s piece weighs the value of the search engine and the scope of the googleplex against other qualities. Libraries—or at least the major research libraries—will continue to have a role in our lives. If Grafton leaves anything out, it’s that the Web may miss more than it preserves…and not so much of the physical world of print as of its own domain. Take for example, this littlegirlonline (not safe for work), which had some interesting material on it until it was given up and has now been re-appropriated by a porn vendor. You can still find some, but not all, of the writing at the Internet Archive. Thank God for Brewster Kahle and, but still, are we really keeping track of the good stuff online?

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