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 Tracy's words, "When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books".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
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