Can't Buy Us Love
The Declining Importance of Library Books and the Rising Importance of Special Collections

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The use of large, comprehensive collections of printed books and journals has seen a massive decline at North American research libraries in recent years—an effect of the shift in scholarly publishing from an analog and print-based model to a digital and networked one. However, during these past two decades of radical change and energetic response, as Rick Anderson argues in this issue brief, we have missed a much more important shift, one that poses a more direct and existential threat than the one posed by the move from print to online. We have failed to prepare for the emergence of a reality in which our very role as brokers, curators, and organizers has itself been fundamentally undermined.