In Praise of (Electronic) Serendipity

10 Jan

Old books smell delicious, apparently like a combination of grass and vanilla. Browsing the stacks offers us a chance not only to enjoy the lovely aroma but also to stumble upon that fragrant book we didn\’t know existed, or that we wanted, but that is just the one we needed! Ah, serendipity! It consistently tops, or nearly tops, the list of 20th-century library features we sorrowfully mourn. As we move ever-increasingly toward electronic-focused library collections, it seems we\’ll have to forgo this feature and pleasure of physical browsing.

Elliott Brandow, quoted above, acknowledges that the smells are disappearing from the digital search experience–but he argues that we are not losing the “serendipity” that comes from finding the unexpected.

I wonder, though …

See the entire piece here: The Historical Society: In Praise of (Electronic) Serendipity.

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