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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Library without Books!

“When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said headmaster James Tracy.
“When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said headmaster James Tracy. (Mark Wilson for The Boston Globe)

This just in from Gypsy Wings. The Boston Globe ran a story about Cushing Academy. The New England Prep School has rid themselves of all the books in their library! Here's an excerpt:

"Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a “learning center,’’ though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.

And to replace those old pulpy devices that have transmitted information since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1400s, they have spent $10,000 to buy 18 electronic readers made by Amazon.com and Sony. Administrators plan to distribute the readers, which they’re stocking with digital material, to students looking to spend more time with literature."

What do you think, rgz? I know my school would have needed more than 18 electronic readers!

This is going to stab Little Willow in the heart for sure...

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Georgia said...

I seriously felt sick when I read it!

I just don't understand getting rid of all the books! Electronic readers are great... but they just CANNOT compare to a book, and there is no way every student will even have access to one!

Unknown said...

I'm with Georgia, I feel a little ill reading that. How can an educator not see the importance of books? What about the fact that reading from an electronic screen gives many students head aches? Aren't we trying to drag our children away from the screens of all of their electronics?

A book is not only a wonderful learning tool, but it is also a tactile connection.

Little Willow said...

Even before I saw the last line of this post, I felt like crying. Just the picture ALONE - Oh my goodness. Why aren't the professors, psychologists, and other types of educators and scientists explaining the different methods of mental retention to people, and the need to have things available in various formats, for the sake of retention, intelligence, resources, and...and...and... I could rant about this for a while, with facts and figures as well as simple emotions and personal convictions.

Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

So bizarre. I'm doing my masters in library and information science and we talk about this kind of thing a lot in our one foundations class. One of our modules was to talk about the prospect of a paperless library, and it was interesting to see the arguments for and against. I am most definitely against!

Nancy Werlin said...

Even if you believe in a completely digital future, this is short-sighted and irrational. So much is not available in digital form, and won't be for many years, maybe decades. The idea of 18 readers made me laugh. Only 18 kids can do research at any one time, while -- in a library with thousands of volumes -- information is available in every single volume simulanteously. Compare.

Priya said...

I saw this a couple of months ago, and it's so sad! One thing I love about reading is being able to hold the book in my hand and ooh and aah over the pretty cover. Those kids won't have that experience anymore, unless they go to a different library. Flat-screen TVs? I still don't see the point of those. And only 18 e-readers? No one is going to use that library. They're just going to use the coffee shop and the $12,000 cappuccino machine :(

Anonymous said...

I think I'm a little nauseous. Why not have both? I know at my old community college they call it a "Learning Center" instead of a Library. I wonder if in the future it'll look like walking into an electronic store instead of a wonderful place of books. Depressing.

April (BooksandWine) said...

I saw this article quite awhile ago. I think it is ridiculous and rather short-sighted. After all, within 2 years that technology will be outdated, whereas, the technology of a physical book, is to me, never outdated. I mean, what happens when the electricity is out for over a week! (That is how long the kindle battery lasts) I guess, a more plausible situation would be, what if you are camping in the woods for a week, and feel the urge to consistently read (I know I would!), the kindle would be useless.

Also, if a student breaks or loses a book, it's most likely less than 30 bucks to replace, but if a student breaks or loses a kindle, that's upwards of 250 bucks. What wonderful foresight. Also, doesn't everyone remember the 1984 fiasco with Kindle, where Amazon sold it for kindle, but then discovered they didn't hold copyright and had to go and remove it from all the kindles? Yeah, no one is coming into my house to remove my books, yet they can do it on a kindle? Um, that's nuts!!

Melissa Walker said...

I need to lie down. Sigh.

Kate said...

Groan. The title says it all "A Library Without Books". Electronics can't compare to a "real" book.

Shelf Elf said...

This makes no sense.

I am a huge supporter of technology. I am open to change.
I do not understand why it has to be one or the other. This kind of action shows such limited view towards the future. Kind of ironic, I think, given that the people who made this choice probably think they are very forward-thinking.

I am sick and tired of the all-or-nothing, jump on the bandwagon and never look back point of view of many people in education. (And I'm a teacher, so I feel I can say that without looking like I'm bashing all educators).

This is sad. Let's hope other schools / parents / educators don't start thinking this is the way to go.

Katie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie said...

I feel sick over reading that. How the hell (sorry, I get passionate about books) can you educate without books? Really!?! They're just letting kids sit there and play on the computer is what it sounds like. There's such a HUGE variety of books and books offer things electronic devices can't offer. Wow, that's so sad. I can't imagine going to a school and NOT having a library. That doesn't make sense at all.

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