Digital libraries

40 years is a long time to live in one house.

It’s definitely sufficient time to accumulate a lot of books.

We’re moving out and going overseas for a while.

Photo_kazuend_UnsplashImage by: kazuend | Unsplash

We stood together in the library and looked at the seven floor to ceiling bookcases holding somewhere in excess of two thousand books, and at the six yellow containers of children’s books piled up between two of the bookcases.

The question on our minds – what do we do with all these books?

Our initial reaction to the question was a decision to store the library. After all, how could we throw away a book?

Then we realised that was an emotional response.

We spent some time examining what was on those shelves and in those yellow containers. There were books from our university days, books from our teaching days, even some books from our school days, and books that our sons had loved to death. There were books we knew we would never read again. Some were so dated we knew no-one would ever want to read them again.

We decided on a cull.

Now there is a large stack of books waiting for their final trip to the recycling depot.

When we finally decide on a new house, we won’t be needing those seven bookcases.

The cassette tape collection, which had been collecting dust since the advent of the CD, was not as fortunate as the books. It was added to the pile of stuff waiting to go into oblivion.

The CDs did better than the cassettes and the books. They have been boxed for storage. Who’s got time to review all that music? Some of the DVDs survived to be viewed another day, others are going to new homes to entertain other folks.

I’m not sure how many of the books and CDs we have retained will survive our next move but I do know that the majority of additions to our reading and recording libraries into the future will be digital.

The thing about digital libraries is they are stored in the cloud and copied to your device. They take up no space in your house; they do not require bookcases or any special shelving. You do not need to store them when you are between houses. You can access your libraries from anywhere in the world, as long as you can connect to the internet, and you can read or listen to the copies you have downloaded to your device when you can’t.

I suspect that we’re part of the last generation that will accumulate physical books into home libraries. But, who knows? Maybe the allure of the physical book will survive.


IMG_0156Peter Mulraney is a creative writer from Australia. He is the author of the Inspector West crime series, the Living Alone series of self-help books for men, Sharing the Journey: Reflections of a Reluctant Mystic, The New Girlfriend and Everyday Project Management.

2 thoughts on “Digital libraries

  1. I still can’t convert to the digital book. I love the feel of a book in my hands, turning each page. Both my daughter and grandchildren collect and read books. As you say Peter…maybe the physical book will survive!. Hope the packing is going well x Lily x

    1. Isn’t it funny how we buy books for their content and fall in love with their physical presence? I must admit that sitting with my iPad is not the same as sitting in my library surrounded by my books. But I now know which format is easier to move. As for the packing, I’m leaving that to someone who knows what he’s doing.

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