MLA, don’t you love books anymore?

In perusing the MLA’s new guidelines for a proper works cited page after a heads up from my co-worker, I was saddened to realize that good old-fashioned print sources (you remember books, right?) have been marginalized. It seems the balance of print vs. online sources has shifted; it used to be that you lugged home a stack of books on your research topic. You probably checked out every book the library had on the subject.

Then came the Internet and the occasional website provided excellent supplemental information. It was frankly amazing to find such comprehensive information on the Madagascar Sunset moth. Still, teachers were rightly skeptical. They limited online sources and demanded scholarly articles (no Wikipedia, for you), which often meant back to the library and print sources.

These days, everything is online; you can access scholarly articles through library websites and conceivably write a paper without ever leaving your desk. Indeed, students and scholars are accessing sources online primarily these days, leaving books to decay on library shelves (well, maybe it’s not that drastic). As a result, new guidelines call for noting if a source is “print” because it’s no longer the default. I don’t know about you, but while I find the Interweb is an information mecca, I’m still sad that books are getting short shrift.

library shelves


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