Sunday, September 6, 2009

Libraries with No Books

A few days ago, I read an online article on The Boston Globe by David Abel. The article was explaining how the New England prep school the Cushing Academy is riding their entire library of our 20,000 books and replacing it with digital screens, places for laptops, etc.

The first question that entered my mind was how the library cannot invite the Library without booksdigital books and books online along with the books? I’m all for the convenience of modern technology, but there are many things that technology cannot completely take the place of without consequences and one of those is books. What has been working well for centuries shouldn’t just end because one generation found an invention they liked better.

It was mentioned in the article that the staff of Cushing believe it is the start of a new era. The problems I foresee, aside from losing the pure love of books, are what if there was a power surge? What about the effects on the eyes as people do more reading on a computer screen? Like the television the computer screen can affect the brain waves as well. The author also pointed out various other problems with digital "books" such as sand, liquids and the cost of accessing the materials as many of the materials online are not free.

I'm also not in agreement with the library bringing in a coffee shop containing and encouraging the use of legally addictive stimulants for youth. Not just any coffee shop mind you, but a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.

We travel an hour away to go to libraries in a large city nearest us. We have access to almost twenty libraries that inter-loan. I cannot imagine not being able to browse through the shelves, picking out books that catch my eye. Sometimes the spiral bound cookbooks are my favorites to browse, or books that are warn on the covers and pages dog-earring showing me that this was a well-read and well-loved book.

I write ebooks and articles, most of which are featured online. That still doesn’t replace the value of a book in my mind. Call me old fashioned but I love a book, a real book.

-Shiloah B.

Photo of old books by:  Ivan Vicencio (Pepo)


The Greevers Posse said...

Reminds me of the movie (2002 version) The Time Machine. The main character enters into the future where there are no books, libraries or museums…all is replaced by a digitalized hologram tour guide.
Fate would have it that everything was destroyed by means of catastrophe and thus leaving this computerized system useless.

As a result, not having any books, civilization receded to a primitive state because all means of education were lost.

The only way we can successfully preserve our history & secure our education for the future is through the preservation of our literature more specifically, the classics.

Terresa said...

"Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future." -- Ray Bradbury.

In graduate school we discussed the demise of the library, the book. (I have a MLIS, that is, a Masters in Library & Information Science.) That was back in 1998 before the Kindel, the Iphone, and mass owned hand-held reading devices.

Technology keeps evolving and the beauty of a good Librarian is that he/she taps into that and evolves along with it, to some degree.

But getting rid of all books in a library in favor of technology? What kind of Librarian would do that? None that I know and certainly not me.