I just spent the morning putting together book orders for our San Luis and North County libraries. Yes, we still do buy books. Increasingly we purchase electronic versions, such as our Netlibrary collection of 7,000 books, or our online databases like Ebsco and National Newspaper Index. But many book titles can only be purchased in print form, or they are better in print form. (I wouldn't want to curl up in front of my computer screen to read a novel, personally.)
I just read an article a few days ago in Educause Review by Jerry Campbell called "Changing a Cultural Icon: The Academic Library as a Virtual Destination" (at http://www.educause.edu/apps/er/erm06/erm0610.asp). According to Campbell, "Within the next decade, published academic knowledge of all types will likely be issued digitally and made accessible on the Web, with paper publishing limited to mass-market titles, textbooks, and other areas that make economic sense." So we are in a transitional phase right now.
I will miss purchasing big reference sets as they go to online, because I can't help but enjoy the experience of using a print resource. I still love books--but in some instances, electronic is the better choice.
(in Library insider)
Tina Lau, North County Librarian