Externalities of the Digital Library
At the dawn of the Digital Age, few library and information specialists imagined the revolutionary changes that would occur when computers entered libraries and subsequently, when libraries entered computers. On the surface, it appears that a majority of librarians view the automation and digitization of libraries as positive developments for information retrieval, access and availability, storage and preservation, resource sharing and labor costs. Yet hidden from such progress is a host of negative externalities that remains absent in the discourse on digital libraries. The concept of digital or virtual libraries is "virtual" in the scholarly literature as there appear to be almost no examples of scholarship that recognize its physical, material basis. This paper is an attempt to address the potentially disastrous consequences of the digitization of traditional, analog resources in libraries in the twenty-first century.
Keywords: Digital Library, Virtual Library, Climate Change, Resource Depletion, Peak Oil, Blackout, Electricity, Coal, Carbon Dioxide
Dr. Lowell Lybarger
Music/Multimedia Librarian, Ross Pendergraft Library, Arkansas Tech University