Private school library gets rid of all books

The Boston Globe today reports on the Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, MA that has decided to take all the latest trends in libraries to their absurd extreme: <a href="">A library without the books</a>. "Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine."


Instead of spending 50k on coffee shop and 10k on ebook readers shouldn't they flip that around? 50k on ebook readers and 10k on the coffee.

The headmaster says that this is not Fahrenheit 451 as he puts up large flat panel screens and gets rid of the books. Dear sir please read Fahrenheit 451. You are doing exactly what that book warns against.

in fact, the older a book gets, the more beautiful it becomes (in some cases)... but a 2009 42" flat panel TV will look like a huge POS to the graduating class of 2015... “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, ..."

When I look at an ebook reader, I see outdated technology *before* it's even out of the box.

Moore's law has never been applied to books, but electronic tech ages faster and faster every day. In fact, anyone who worries whether his name will live on past this lifetime WILL ABSOLUTELY print all their shit out on paper, so that it will be preserved.

I wonder how valuable some of those old books were that were given away. Try to give away an old laptop and see who's willing to pay for it.

These students will be at a disadvantage when they get to college and find out that they have to use books for research and homework. What happens to these students when there's a power failure or the servers go down and they can't access any of their library material?

It will be interesting to watch how this plays out over the long-term. Hopefully there will be follow-ups.

Did any of the librarians have the courage to resign over this? Or are they collaborating with this madness...?

A bookless Corporate library I understand, but this is at a friggin' SCHOOL.

I also agree, the administrator who referenced Fahrenheit 451 clearly hasn't studied that book beyond a cursory plot summary. Maybe she should sit in her "learning center" and watch the 1960s film version and it might sink in...especially the scenes with Guy Montag's multimedia-addicted wife...

I think the Fahrenheit 451 comparison is perfect since each person becomes a living book.. just like now, the Internet is the combined us and we are the content; the medium is us..

...hey, I gots to blogger this somehow... unless Marshall McLuhan said it first... damn you, Marshall McLuhan!!!

“Unless every student has a Kindle and an unlimited budget, I don’t see how that need is going to be met,’’ Fiels said. “Books are not a waste of space, and they won’t be until a digital book can tolerate as much sand, survive a coffee spill, and have unlimited power. When that happens, there will be next to no difference between that and a book.’’

-- Well, that and the DMCA rules might not let you keep what you buy or share it with others. Anyone else remember that Orwell and Kindle problem that happened just recently?

This superintendent is a - dare I say - fucking idiot who does not have a professional understanding of how information is stored and handled. Being Mr/Ms. Nice Librarian isn't always going to get the point across.

I can see the library getting rid of it's non-fiction. Those books are expensive and the information is often out of date by the time it's printed; digital resources can be a good replacement if they're well-organized and available. But fiction...oy, I would never want to read a whole novel on my computer. Do these kids not do any recreational reading?

Here is a link to their library webpage.

No accreditation issues when you get rid of all the books?

Didn't hybrid online/in-person institutions like University of Phoenix already set the relevant precedents of going without books?
Stephen Michael Kellat, MSLS

There are plenty of higher education accreditating bodies that would not accredit University of Phoenix.

It must be that North Central Association hands out accreditation status like free candy canes at a mall Santa event. If institutions like Phoenix are that bad, then the standards by which NCA accredits are probably way too low.
Stephen Michael Kellat, MSLS

They did get a super nice espresso machine. Give credit where credit is due.

Think they may be exaggerating a tad?

"Terminals we call “Portals of Civilization” will give ready access to everything humans have achieved, from every civilization, across an ever-expanding universe of culture."


I hope this administrator didn't bet his job on this idea. And no, it isn't new. Moneterrey College in California tried this in the 1990s. Then they had to build their library from scratch because without materials to exchange, they couldn't participate in OCLC and Inter-Library Loan. The jerk administrator would have known this if he had done a literature search and did some library research first.

The administrator has also forgotten, or didn't know, that libraries are there to reduce costs. The expenses for new Kindles and the loaded books will be new each year- purchase a book once for a library, and it's good for a number of years. Everything they are spending for a library this year will need to be paid for again next year. He needs to remember as well that no student will be able to exchange a text with another- they aren't free, they are purchased. The expresso machine is a one-time cost. The Kindle books and electronic library will be an annual cost.

Besides, the kids can keep a Kindle for a couple of years, but probably not for all four years. They probably won't last that long under daily use. And they will have trouble if they go to a competitor's machine a few years down the road, and new technology will complicate their personal libraries.

A better idea would have been to get electronic notebooks that would have Internet and class scheduling and educational rograms on them as well, so the students won't have to carry around multiple machines. However, the commercial world isn't up to that right now, so the admin is betting on as the leader in electronic book librarianship. Good luck.

So, who will send their kids to this school? Those who are familiar with computers won't, because they already know the limits to Internet education. Those who want a good, all round education for their kids won't send them. Their children will never learn how to do research in a library- not a good bet for accomplishments in an Ivy league school.

People who buy the hype rather than the reality will send their kids to this library-less school. and this is social Darwinism in action. Their children will learn less than they did, and earn less than they did, and won't be able to send their kids to prep schools like this.

R. Lee Hadden (These are my own opinions!)

Hi Lee, Do you have any further details about the Monterrey example you mentioned or know of any articles that discuss it? Thanks.

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