The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article discussing the harm of the bookless library. The author states that his "primary concern is that this might (or already has?) create false expectations of what 'all libraries' should become. It’s setting a precedent. The key issue for [him] is funding. Why do we need a library anymore? Let’s just build computer labs– that’s what they are doing in Texas."
This kind of thinking is already happening in the legal academe. See my previous post discussing the issues with eliminating law libraries.
And this NYTimes article made me evaluate how much of my life is spent online and the effect that it has on all of us. "The digital world offers us many advantages, but if we yield to that world too completely we may lose the privacy we need to develop a self. Activities that require time and careful attention, like serious reading, are at risk; we read less and skim more as the Internet occupies more of our lives. And there’s a link between selfhood and reading slowly, rather than scanning for quick information, as the Web encourages us to do. Recent work in sociology and psychology suggests that reading books, a private experience, is an important aspect of coming to know who we are."
So, yes, a bookless library may save us money for those bottom-line thinkers, but it may do more harm than good to our development of self.