Naomi Appleton, scholar of ancient Buddhist texts at the Divinity School at the University of Edinburgh, recognizes the value of the “real thing.” Notwithstanding the advantages of digitized manuscripts, Appleton writes, “to see a manuscript in the flesh—to touch it and hold it and appreciate its overall presence—still holds a certain magic.”

My visits to research libraries … connected me in to a network of other scholars, and gave me the confidence to believe in myself as a proper researcher. Being amongst the rare books, and chuckling at the marginalia on the palm leaf pages of the text, conferred something that it is not quite possible to describe, and something that is certainly impossible to replicate in the digital world. … The physical form of these experiences is important to me. The magic of working with a physical book or manuscript will always be worth preserving, but we should also celebrate the growing opportunities of the online world.

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