9.30.2009

A library loses its books (on purpose)

The Boston Globe reports on the Cushing Academy, a private school that will be doing away with its 20,000-volume library of books in favor of a digital "learning center" and electronic readers such as the Kindle or Sony eReader.

"When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books," said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. "This isn't 'Fahrenheit 451' [the 1953 Ray Bradbury novel in which books are banned]. We're not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology."

There are some good arguments for digital collections, but I have to admit that this decision to completely remove all books doesn't sit very well with me. For one thing, what will people read during power outages?

Then again, the numbers do suggest that the books aren't exactly flying off the shelves: "School officials said when they checked library records one day last spring only 48 books had been checked out, and 30 of those were children's books."

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