Friday, September 4, 2009

A Book-Free Library?!


On the front page of today's The Boston Globe is an article with the headline - "Welcome to the Library. Say goodbye to the books". I nearly fell down in a dead faint when I read that! I couldn't grab that newspaper and read that article fast enough.

Apparently James Tracy, the headmaster at Cushman Academy in Ashburnham, MA, has decided that books are obsolete and the library at Cushman will now be completely digital. In Mr. Tracy's words, "When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books". Somehow I don't think that if I ever met Mr. Tracy we would ever be friends. Personally, I do not believe that books are a form of technology at all.

I can understand a library having all its academic books, textbooks and reference materials in an all digital format. That makes some sense to me. It really does. Textbooks are prohibitively expensive and it would be a welcome relief to both students' pocketbooks and their backs if they were digital. Same with reference materials. Most people do all their research online and this actually makes sense to me. It's easier, faster and can be more thorough (if you know what you're doing. Please, no Wikipedia or Google. Use Reference Datebases). But Mr. Tracy has decided to discard ALL of Cushman's books - including the classics, novels and poetry. I beg to disagree with Mr. Tracy on this. Personally, if I had a child attending Cushman Academy I withdraw him/her immediately. I'm not exaggerating. A student should have access to books. Paper and ink books. Books they can hold and be immersed in. Sorry, reading Jane Eyre on a Kindle is just not the same. Nor is reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or even The Kite Runner. Young people today are already too connected to technology and electronics. Please don't take away their access to books.

As far as I know, not too many libraries are going book free. I think there might be a middle ground here. Libraries could be partially digital and still have books. I certainly hope that other libraries do not follow in the misguided footsteps of Cushman Academy's headmaster. If all libraries decided to go book-free, it will be a sad day indeed.

"A house without books is like a room without windows" ~Horace Mann

Image from Google Images

19 comments:

Gwendolyn B. said...

Sounds way too Orwellian for me. I've got no problem with digital being an available option, but no print books at all? What happens when we run out of juice?!

Anita said...

As you know I'm a book gal, and while I like technology, a lot, I would never want to give up books. Nick has many next books on disc, and while nice to lug those big books, it's not the same as a book.
I wonder if Mr. Tracy will be met with any opposition?

Pam said...

That sounds awfully odd to me. It reminds me of the "cashless Saturdays" my bank had when I was in university - because that was convenient for the students who couldn't get there any other day of the week...

tori said...

For me reading is more than just acquiring words. Reading is an affair of the senses. The feel of book in your hand with a security in knowing you can bring it with you anywhere you go. Cuddling under a blanket to read or getting in a couple pages in line at the grocery store. The sight of the beautiful font. The chance encounter of a smell of something unexplained yet familiar when you bring a book home from the library. To lose these things would mean losing the joy of reading.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I agree. I thought of this today as I returned my library books. Seeing all the people at tables, all the children - wondering what would happen if the book world turned into Kindles only. The library system is such an incredible idea and useful tool. How could we possibly eliminate it?

My city just cut funding.

Gamma Sharon said...

Oh, I so so agree! It would be a very sad day!

C said...

Okay, I concur on this one...a bookless library? That's just crazy talk! I love my Kindle, don't get me wrong, but nothing beats the thrill of getting immersed in a good book, holding it in your hands and flipping through the pages!

Oh, speaking of which, The White Queen arrived in the mail this week! I can't wait to dig in and read it, thanks again Pam!

Sandy said...

A sad day, indeed, but something I'm afraid we are heading toward.

JennyMac said...

I love books..and I love my new Kindle but I can not imagine NO books. So sad.

Alex the Girl said...

Ray Bradbury...literary genius...psychic? Hmm. Makes one wonder, doesn't it.

I"m on board with you, Pam. No pages to bend? No covers to abuse? Pshaw!

FranticMommy said...

I'm with you Pam. I could read the newspaper on-line, but I don't. I need to hold it in my hot little hands. I guess I'm "old school"! Same with books. To not hold, feel, and see the pages would be the pits. I can't even fathom it.
Plus, my kids would lose the fun of yanking out my pagemarkers all the time!

Tammy Howard said...

I don't think it will happen in our lifetime - too many of us are like-minded. Of course I couldn't imagine that albums would ever disappear, either, so what do I know?

I think we're on the same page here (Ha! books? same page? I kill me...) I am far from anti-technology. But they supplement one another. It doesn't need to be either/or.

On a not entirely unrelated note, library funding has been cut HARD around here.

Anonymous said...

Pam,

I couldn't agree with you more. The headmaster should rethink this situation. How about the feeling you get when you enter a library...I really love that feeling. Perhaps the headmaster needs trip to Ireland, to Trinity College and the magnificiant Library there with the book of Kells for some inspiration.

Colleen

Pam said...

Colleen - Yes, I do know that feeling and I LOVE it. Heck, I visit libraries when I travel I like it so much. I don't know about the headmaster, but I'M inspired to go to Ireland, and Trinity College, and see the book of Kells! I'm adding it to my Bucket List right now! Thanks for the tip!

Kathy B! said...

I love this post and I love tori's comment:

For me reading is more than just acquiring words. Reading is an affair of the senses...

Thanks for posting about this!

Michelle said...

So you mean the book that I'm reading as I'm waiting for my interminable page loads would no longer be there? Yeah... I'd be with you withdrawing my child. Yikes! So glad our library isn't heading down that path!

GreedyGirl said...

Hi www.greedygirlsguide.com checking in from SITS

Personal I prefer printed books, but I also understand the library's utilize technology and the savings the good get from going electronic.

Maybe a more hybrid approach would be best.

The Blonde Duck said...

I don't think books will ever go out of style.

Isk8Jewel (~Julie~) said...

I just can't imagine a life without books. Admittedly things like Kindle frighten me but I do hope that there are enough of us book lovers out there to keep them alive for many years to come.

 

Blog Design By Lindsey Joy Design © All Rights Reserved.