Dick Eastman posted a response to a letter concerning "Scanning Books in the Family History Library: Not Everyone is Happy." I highly recommend reading the entire article. I fully agree with Dick's opinions and his assessment of the situation. This is particularly true if you had any insight into library operation and particularly the selection of items to put on the shelves.
I could make some of the same comments, but Dick did a wonderful job of replying to the issues, so there is no real need for a rehash. There are a number of issues raised, however, and not all of them are completely covered by Dick's post. Here are some of the issues I see that need to be considered by genealogists as a whole.
1. The substitution of digital records for paper originals, whether they be books or other other documents and the the disposition of the originals. Many people ask me what I do with the originals once I have digitized the record. I keep all originals, but some people have questioned keeping originals. Archive.org is in the process of trying to obtain a physical copy of every book ever published for preservation. Is that necessary or even possible?
2. Whether or not there is some virtue in "holding a paper version" of a book as an object? What is more important, the physical book or the information contained in the book? Isn't a physical book just an outmoded method of transmitting information? I recently checked out an 800 page book on learning to use Adobe Photoshop from my local library. I found the book very useful and purchased an updated eBook version. I still have all of the information in the book, but I can read it at my leisure on my iPhone or my iPad and I don't have to lug around 800 pages. Are physical books necessary?
3. Is there really a difference between reading a book on an iPad or a Kindle rather than holding a paper book? Is there a physical difference in the size or readability of the text? Or are the differences psychological?
4. Would you rather have a library full of stacks of books or have universal access to the information?
5. When was the last time you went to a library and checked out a physical book?
6. Will online availability of research sources replace physical libraries in the future?
Think about it.