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News Tue Sep 15 2009

Bookless Libraries

Here's an unfortunate aspect of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 come to life: a boarding school library in Massachusetts is getting rid of all of their books to stock the library, which will be called a "learning center," with flat screen TVs, cubicles for laptop use and e-readers. Says the school's Headmaster, James Tracy, in an interview with the Boston Globe, "When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books...This isn't 'Fahrenheit 451.' We're not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology."

I'm not sure which saddens me more, the fact that the headmaster of a school is calling books "outdated technology" or that he claims the removal of books is not discouraging students from reading. But, Alexander Coyle, the school's history department chairman, who does use the Kindle but also refers to libraries as "secular cathedrals," had this to say about the change: "I wouldn't want to ever get rid of any of my books at home. I like the feel of them too much. A lot us are wondering how this changes the dignity of the library, and why we can't move to increase digital resources while keeping the books.'' Good question.

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