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Hard Copy or Online? Balancing Books and Bytes in the Digital Age

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 September 2015


Claire Greening explores some of the challenges that library and information professionals face when weighing up hard copy and online resources. Rather than trying to establish a preferred or ‘best’ format, this article instead explores the advantages that both formats have to offer and considers how they can co-exist within the law library. The article concludes with some questions to ask when purchasing and organising resources and explores some of the practical considerations to take into account regarding training.

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2015. Published by British and Irish Association of Law Librarians 

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1 Broady, Tim, Chan, Amy, and Caputi, Peter, ‘Comparison of older and younger adults' attitudes towards and abilities with computers: Implications for training and learning’ [2010] British Journal of Educational Technology 41(3), 473485CrossRefGoogle Scholar

2 See, for example: Michael S. Rosenwald, ‘Wired millennials still prefer the printed word’ The Washington Post (23 February 2015); ‘K-12 Print Needs Persist Despite Digital Growth’ Education Week (15 April 2015); Ian Burrell, ‘Looks good on paper’ The Independent (20 February 2014)

3 Henry Wallop, ‘The Kindle is dead, the book is back. Or is it?’ The Telegraph (10 January 2015)

4 For a helpful summary see: Maria Konnikova, ‘Being a better online reader’ (16 July 2014) accessed 10 July 2015

5 Tom Chatfield, ‘Why reading and writing on paper can be better for your brain’ The Guardian (23 February 2015)

6 See Konnikova (2014) above

7 For a light-hearted view on this see: Piotr Kowalczyk, ‘Book smell is back – 24 paper-scented perfumes and candles’ (25 November 2014) accessed 10 July 2015

8 ‘Tablet Users to Surpass 1 Billion Worldwide in 2015’ accessed 10 July 2015

9 For a very helpful overview of this idea see: Sales, Nicola. ‘Flipping the classroom: revolutionising legal research training’ [2013] Legal Information Management 13(4), 231235CrossRefGoogle Scholar