On the “Myth of Browsing” (American Libraries Magazine):
Image: A student in the stacks (Princeton, circa 1970)Although today’s academic library users may feel that browsing is an ancient scholarly right, the practice is in fact no older than the baby-boomer faculty who so often lead the charge to keep books on campus. Prior to the Second World War, the typical academic library was neither designed nor managed to support the browsing of collections. At best, faculty might be allowed to browse, but it was the rare academic library that allowed undergraduates into the stacks. To this day academic-library special collections—real treasure troves for scholars in the letters and humanitie [sic]—remain entirely closed to browsing.