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New Library Not the Best Use of Funds

July 10, 1994

* Do we need another hard copy of 500,000 existing books? Worse yet, is a $35-million library with shelves the best use of our limited education funds?

I am an executive MBA student at UCI Graduate School of Management. I do not underestimate the value of libraries or books. All Orange County and UCI students should be proud of our new science library. However, as I was reading your article "High-Tech Reference Point" (June 26) the underlying premise guiding the actions of our public and school administrators struck me. They act as though our libraries need to have all the real books just like they always have. Hasn't anyone mentioned the digital world to them?

If almost every written word will, in the not too distant future, end up digitized (one CD-ROM holds 50,000 pages), what will happen to all the wonderful buildings designed to hold shelves and books? Renovate?

So, legislators, planners and administrators--wake up please. As a taxpayer, I do not want to see millions of dollars more spent on supposedly sophisticated structures designed for a soon-to-be-obsolete purpose: book storage.

If everyone is going to have access to the nation's electronic highways where everything is digital, do we want the same number and kinds of buildings for the next generation of libraries? How many students could have permanent access to a computer connected to every book in the world for $35 million? After all, it is our money.

JOHN P. STRAHL

Corona del Mar

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