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Externalities of the Digital Library

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Lybarger, Lowell
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4389
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Information & Knowledge
Subject(s): alternative technology
climate change
information technology
Abstract: "Digital libraries offer unparalleled access to information in comparison to older analog information systems, which has prompted widespread prognostication about the imminent demise of the physical library. Yet, without a cheap, abundant electricity supply, digital access to information would not exist. This article explores the hidden implications of ecological overshoot for digital libraries that are beginning to appear in the form of climate change, failing electricity grids, power outages, shortages in hydrocarbon energy sources, resource wars, and the specter of financial collapse. Although most of the analysis concerns North America, references to other regions are given. The author concludes with a call towards the development of 'green' librarianship to mitigate the dire consequences that may result from future energy shortages."

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