Cushing Academy (yearly tuition: $42,850) is getting rid of its books:
“When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. . . . We’re not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology.’’And learn to spout clichéd language like "shape emerging trends and optimize technology"?
Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a “learning center,’’ though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.I know how Cushing Academy can save $500,000: put in a Starbucks instead. What's the difference? And that way they won't have to train the erstwhile "information specialists" to be baristas, too.
Tracy and other administrators said the books took up too much space and that there was nowhere else on campus to stock them. So they decided to give their collection - aside from a few hundred children’s books and valuable antiquarian works - to local schools and libraries.And students mark up these books how, exactly? But not everyone is happy with the Brave New World:
“We see the gain as greater than the loss,’’ said Gisele Zangari, chairwoman of the math department, who like other teachers has plans for all her students to do their class reading on electronic books by next year. “This is the start of a new era.’’
“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."So far we agree. But wait--there's more:
"When that happens, there will be next to no difference between that and a book.’’
Here's a test: Anyone out there still have a book on a 5 1/4" floppy disk, suitable for reading in the drive on your x286 processor Windows 3.1 system computer? How about a book on a 3" misnamed "floppy disk" or a Zip disk? Still have them? I do. How often do you read them? Daily? Weekly? Never?
How often do you read from books on paper that are over 100 years old? Daily? Weekly? More than you read the books on computer disks?
But of course reading old books on paper doesn't "shape emerging trends" or "prioritize the ramfoozle" or whatever the currently fashionable phrase is.
I know I've ranted about this before. But this is something that deserves a rant every time.