Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Future of Our Books

Second floor stacks
Originally uploaded by Pesky Library
Since Cushing Academy, a New England Independent School, made the decision to ban books in paper format from its library, there’s been a lot of discussion about the “future of the book.” Boston University recently held a conference with that title. Members of the Cooperative Library Association reported on the conference at a meeting that I recently attended. They reported that not all presenters were as certain as Cushing’s headmaster that the future of the world would be a future without paper books. Christopher Ricks, Warren Professor of the Humanities at Boston University, stated that information, data, knowledge, and culture are not interchangeable terms and that reading while being bombarded with electronic messages from your computer screen is “like exercising on a treadmill while you munch on a bag of chips.”

Here at the Governor’s Academy we have no desire to rid our shelves of books. Students who wish to read online can find plenty to read. We purchase access to databases containing thousands of magazine, journal, and newspaper articles. However, when our students need reliable information and archived writings of the history of knowledge, we will continue to provide them with distraction free, wireless connection to paper content in our 28,000 volume library.

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