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There's a lot of bragging on the Internet about how big it is, how much information the Web has to offer. I ran across a discussion group posting a while back where the moderator announced that one of the search engines had indexed 9 billion words. I went to the University of California online catalog and did a quick calculation: 9 million titles x 300 pages x 500 words... I posted my results to the group, and mentioned that this didn't include duplicate copies (and we know there is duplication on the Net), and, by the way, each of these words had gone through some editorial process.

The moderator shot back the challenge "Yes, but all of those books are deteriorating, falling apart right on the shelves." To which the only reasonable reply is: When is the last time you successfully read a ten-year-old diskette?

Librarians still preside over the largest collection of information on this planet. And paper is still the most stable and most universally usable medium we have.