People sometimes announce that we have entered 'the information age' as if information did not exist in other times. I think that every age was an age of information, each in its own way and according to the available media.
I believe we should celebrate new possibilities of combining the printed codex with electronic technology... The information ecology is getting richer, not thinner.
I want to continue to strengthen Harvard's fabulous collections in old printed material, but at the same time, I want to help Harvard move into the world of digitized information.
It simply is not true that everything is now on the Internet, but it is true that the digital resources available through the Internet have enormous potential for education and even for self-empowerment of individuals.
My work has taken me from historical research to involvement in electronic publishing ventures to the directorship of the Harvard University Libraries.
As president of the American Historical Association, I started a programme to make dissertations into e-books in 1999. Before I knew it, I was involved in other electronic projects. Harvard invited me to become director of the libraries in 2007.
Thanks to modern technology, we now can deliver every text in every research library to every citizen in our country, and to everyone in the world. If we fail to do so, we are not living up to our civic duty.
All of us are citizens in a republic much larger than the Republic of America. It is the Republic of Letters, a realm of the mind that extends everywhere, without police, national boundaries, or disciplinary frontiers.
I was very fortunate to be elected to the Society of Fellows at Harvard, which is, in effect, a small research center where you are given three years to do whatever work you want.
As a graduate student at Oxford in 1963, I began writing about books in revolutionary France, helping to found the discipline of book history. I was in my academic corner writing about Enlightenment ideals when the Internet exploded the world of academic communication in the 1990s.
While confronting the problems of the present, I often find myself thinking back to the world of books as it was experienced by the Founding Fathers and the philosophers of the Enlightenment.
We are living in one of those rare moments in history when things may come apart and be put back together again in ways that will determine the future for decades or more, despite the endless innovations of technology.
The idea of a national digital library has been in the air for a long time, and there was a danger that some people would feel that it's their property, so to speak.
I would not minimize the digital divide, which separates the computerized world from the rest, nor would I underestimate the importance of traditional books.
When you tell people you're in history, they give you this pained expression because that was the course they hated in high school. But history can be exciting, intellectually rigorous, and fun.