The paper vs. electronic dilemma is a popular topic among E-Sylumites. Here are the latest comments from readers. -Editor
Nancy Green (former ANA Librarian) writes:
In reference to the "Digital Dilemma": Long Live Libraries!
Tim L. Shuck of Ames, IA writes:
Regarding the comment that a book "can live on a shelf for a hundred to a thousand years and be immediately retrievable and readable by a user": surely there is a caveat to that statement. Paper documents might last that long if properly preserved and cared for. I don't really believe it's possible to store and ignore paper (or film) for 100 years and expect no problems (is all that paper acid-free?). If it's not water or fire that causes damage, it's bugs and fungi. I've seen maps, historical record books, and photographic imagery compromised by mold/ mildew, even though those items were stored on open shelves similar to what most of us probably use for our numismatic references.
Mr. Waterson notes that digital archiving requires periodic data migration and software/ hardware maintenance to keep the data usable. That's certainly true though I'm not sure if he regards that as a problem or is simply providing information. But preservation of paper materials also requires constant vigilance and expenditures of effort, time, and money. Is there a substantive difference between digital and paper archiving in this regard? The benefits of digital information are obvious; after all, the E-Sylum comes to my inbox, not my mailbox.
I think the 'debate' of paper vs. digital, if one exists, is ultimately fruitless. Each has advantages and disadvantages and neither is likely to replace the other anytime soon, though I think the trend is obvious. I happen to like the new digital version of Coin World, one of the most full-featured and capable digital implementations I've seen and used. And, I can save it as a pdf file if I choose to do so (83.5 Mb for the April 13 issue, in case you wondered). My paper copy gets passed along to others, and I have a digital copy on my computer for active or archival use - seems like a win-win to me, not a dilemma.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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