Friday, March 13, 2009

Letter to the Editor

Occasionally I’ll get a bee in my bonnet and write a letter to the editor of whatever periodical I happen to be reading. My letters tend to be either political in nature or library-related. My most recent letter to Library Journal (11/15/08), for instance, rebutted Joseph Grosso’s assertion that public libraries have abandoned their educational role. My contention, of course, was that they have not. (Don’t even get me started!)

I am no Luddite, but I am easily aggravated by the shortsightedness of those who think the Internet should replace paper-based information sources. I was especially rankled by last week’s L.A. Times “Webscout” article, which not only predicted the demise of print newspapers, but seemed to gloat in the possibility. I had a fit! Why should a format that has served its reading public well for so long be so summarily relegated to the junk pile? Anyway, here’s my response, which the Times published on Saturday (3/7/09):

Regarding David Sarno's "Online/on paper debate" (March 4, 2009), while I agree that many of today's readers are more interested in receiving their news through the Internet than via newsprint, I have some real concerns about doing away with paper periodicals altogether. In particular, I worry about the demise of newspapers as historical artifacts. Sure, we can currently look-up old copies of the L.A. Times on Proquest, but how long will that last in an electronic environment that's so volatile? I'm far more concerned that whole swaths of history can be eliminated with the simple touch of a delete key than I am about the millions of trees destroyed every year to create newspapers. If publishers do away with newsprint, then they better figure out a way to permanently preserve the historical record of our daily lives.

So there! (I’m glad my letter was printed on paper as this blog will no doubt be completely obliterated someday. . .)

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