The Big Question: Digital or Physical?

May 21, 2020 – Adrianna Holt, Adult Services / Passport Agent

The library materials offered have expanded exponentially over the past couple decades, especially with digital being added to our collections. So I asked some of the library workers at CGPL (who are avid readers) what their preference was, did they prefer physical books or digital options? And why?

Katie (The Director of Knowledge aka the Library Director): I’m a digital audiobook user. I prefer to listen to books when I have the time to do so. I download them to my phone, so I can listen to them when I get ready in the morning, cook dinner, or drive to see my fiancé.

Linda (Number Two aka The Administrative Assistant & Passport Acceptance Agent): I like both for different reasons. At home I like to hold a physical book. When traveling downloads are preferable! Don’t like lugging them around!

Bonnie (The User Services Evening Executive aka the Night Supervisor): “I prefer physical books. I like seeing my progress.”

Cody (The User Services Guy That Gets Mistaken for the Adult Services Guy): I vastly prefer physical books. I like the feel of holding a book and anticipating the turn of the page, marking a sentence or two that stick out to me, and having the book on my shelf to remind me of the accomplishment of completing the book. I also like the ability to lend the book to a friend that’s interested in reading it. These are all things you can’t do with digital books and they make all the difference to me.

Erin (The User Services Artist/Employee): Physical. Hurts my eyes to read on my phone because I don’t have a Kindle.

Jean (The Head Honcho of User Services): I like a physical copy because I enjoy seeing my progress as I make my way through. Also, I am a traditionalist and like the comfort of the familiar.

Kelley (The User Services Sunshine [Daytime] Supervisor): I’m indifferent really. I fall asleep if I read a physical book and the blue light on a digital one keeps me awake.

Kyle (The User Services Guy That Can’t Stay Away): I personally prefer physical books for several reasons. Nothing beats the smell of a brand new book. Physical copies never run out of battery so I can binge them anywhere. I also like to see my progress as my bookmark inches closer to the end instead of seeing a simple percentage at the bottom of a screen. Books that I read and don’t care for get donated to the library. My favorite books get displayed on my bookshelves at home. The display is a good conversation starter for visitors. It also gives people the opportunity to borrow from me and hopefully enjoy the book themselves. 

Wendy (The Kindhearted User Services Employee): Physical books. I just like the experience of looking through a book and having a physical book in my hand.

Chelsea (The Newest Passport Acceptance Agent): Physical. It’s very predictable. I like the feel and smell of books and browsing the library. I like the look of having books on the shelf too. Although digital is more convenient, I find it more difficult to read on a screen and get a headache from it. I also don’t feel as accomplished finishing a book in digital form like I do with the physical one in hand.

Chris (The Only Guy in Adult Services/Adult Services Associate): Physical. When I’m on digital, I have the urge to play games or check social media.

Janet (The Passport Acceptance Agent Guru): I prefer digital. I download onto my kindle fire. It’s easy to hold, keeps my place like a bookmark and I can control the brightness. That’s important too because of my vision. My second favorite , which was not part of your question, is audiobooks on CD. I have one in my car all the time.

Kayla (The Boss Lady of Information Services):  Prefers audiobooks because listening to a book is just not the same with some books; also, she can listen and multi task with audiobooks. But when it comes to reading a book, since she stares at a screen most of the time, prefers reading physical books because of the stereotypical love of the feel of a book, the smell, and turning the pages.

Kristopher (The Older Brother That Does Not Actually Work at CGPL, but is an Avid Reader and Had Good Commentary): It depends on the book, the benefits of a digital format when combined with a good e-reader, (ideally with an e-ink screen) are great (portability, storage, hiding what you’re reading in public, etc.) for casual fiction or nonfiction reading. Paper is still superior when reading something you may need to flip through (copious endnotes) white notes about, or if you need a really specific translation and want to be reasonably sure that what you have is actually what it says it is. Also this is assuming eBooks are free, which they aren’t to most people. If I’m paying I want paper every time, because it’s a real thing, not a digital fart of code that you rent for 15 bucks. As eBooks improve with better hyperlinks and whatnot, I’m sure some of my pros/cons will change, but being free is eBooks biggest pro and they’re only free because of public domain.

Sarah (The Jack of All Trades Adult Services Associate) : I like both, cause the digital ones can go anywhere, and I always have one, but the physical ones are easier to get lost in. Something about holding them in my hands and flipping the pages.

Barrett (The Tech Guy aka The Technology Services Coordinator): Physical. I don’t know.

Heather (The Clever Cataloger of our Collections): Physical. Base level. Poor eyesight. Less eye strain. I’m staring at a computer all day, so it’s easier.

Whitney (The Madam of Marketing and Mass Communications Media): I prefer digital because I love audiobooks. It’s so easy to listen to a book while I cook, do laundry, or work out, making things I don’t always enjoy by themselves a lot more enjoyable.

Brenda (The Youth Services Brandisher of Baby Books): Audiobooks because I can get up and move but still enjoy a nice book. Although the other day I was reading a book on my Kindle.

Ryan (The Youth Services Teen Wrangler): Physical books. I can’t stare at a screen that long. And I like to be able to “see” how much I’ve read already

Sharon (The Coordinator of Children’s Characters and Youthful Yearnings of Literature aka David Tennant’s Next Ex-Wife): Audio books—I love to have someone read to me. Otherwise I prefer books.

Renée (The Youth Services Lover of Literature for Littles): I prefer holding a book. The heavy feel of the book.  I do listen to books, but sometimes when I listen, I wanna get a physical book to look at certain passages or how something-especially names-are spelled. I do look up scripture from the Bible online. But nothing beats the feel of a book!

I’m glad to work with such wonderful individuals that love readings, in whatever format, as much as I do. What format do you prefer? Let us know in the comments on Facebook!

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