In August 2017, The Chronicle of Higher Education reiterated a point already understand by library technical service departments: digital resources are not always easier and cheaper than physical ones. In the law library field, we often face an issue discussed in the article. "Publishers work with vendors who bundle digital products and market them to libraries; libraries and library consortia often find themselves paying a lot for bundles that contain some material they want, along with much that they don’t. Managing budgets in that environment can feel like squirming in a vise." Our library would prefer to purchase eBooks (over print) from a leading legal publisher. However, this means purchasing everything available through the platform even when we know books analyzing specific aspects of foreign law will not likely be used.
Beyond the acquisitions aspect, e-resources can also face other labor intensive upkeep such as monitoring licensing, access issues, and discovery restrictions. Haipeng Li, library director of University of California at Merced mentions other expenses of his modern digital library, the "ever-rising journal prices, the costs of making detailed catalog records of materials that users access remotely, and upkeep of computer hardware and software."
This article also highlights the growing trend of libraries as "learning commons." Librarians roles are changing to include teaching and research responsibilities as well as "instructional design, information literacy, and specialized areas like digital humanities and research-data management." As a librarian involved in many facets of the library, I do not condemn these efforts but recognize that it often means increased costs.
The article states, "some academic libraries have been removing physical books, generally quite tentatively — and often controversially — when books are 'deaccessioned' because of scant use, but most commonly when digital equivalents take their place." It cannot be denied this is practice employed by all law libraries to some degree. A letter to the editor the following week titled Librarians Should Accept Fact That Most Books Aren’t Available In Digital Format responds to the article pointing out that many books (especially older and foreign ones) have not made the leap into digital format and "old doesn't necessarily mean 'out-of-date'" in certain subject areas. Old often means out-of-date for the law but with some resources unavailable in digital format, this argument is understandable.
You can find the entire article at: http://www.chronicle.com/article/As-Libraries-Go-Digital-Costs/240858?