A library in my pocket

One of the problems of being a plant taxonomist is that my research relies heavily on books, and some of those can be a few hundred years old.  My modest working book collection covers an entire wall of my office and another walll at home, and is therefore not very portable.  However technologies such as the Kindle, iPad and so on mean that I could now carry my library around on a device that would fit in a large pocket.  Screen reading does not have the same interactive and living feel that turning pages, the smell of paper, and the attachment to history  I find in reading a real book.  However virtual libaries provide me with books that are long out of print, very expensive or even unobtainable on the open market.  I now have access to huge specialist digital libraries through Biodiversity Heritage Library, Botanicus.org and Biodiversity Heritage Library Europe.  Sadly most of these have not had the resources to do more than covert paper to pdf but eventually these books will be annotated through notes and hyperlinks, indexed and become far more instantly practical resources.  A recent article in The Atlantic magazine, entitled ‘In defense of the Kindle‘ stimulated me to think more about my interactions with virtual books and realise the benefits as well as the disadvantages.

About Alastair Culham

A professional botanist and biologist with an interest in promoting biological knowledge and awareness to all.
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