1. James Tracey, headmaster of Cushing Academy (which pretty much said "no, in thunder!" in answer to this question), is still a no-books enthusiast but says that students "need more help from librarians to navigate these resources, so we have also increased our library staff by 25 percent." Wait, what? I thought the point of school was to teach students to think and to find materials for themselves rather than to foster an increased dependence on librarians.
2. I'm more with Matthew G. Kirshenbaum on this one:
Even the grossest physical failings of books and libraries, the maddening frustration of the book that is lost or checked out just when you need it most can instill an important lesson: knowledge is proximate. In the digital world, that proximity is less about geographical locale than about licensing, digital rights management, and affordability; but all the more reason for students (and teachers) to know that not everything is always within reach of a mouse.3. Steve Kolowich at Inside Higher Ed gives a well-reasoned but not especially hopeful update on the "let's kill all the libraries" movement: “The administrators who provide library budgets may be reluctant to fund new facilities to house print collections and may question large expenditures to support both print and electronic formats." My not-especially-helpful reaction is that we could support a lot more books if we got rid of administrators who thought like this.
4. Although I don't condone book abuse, I've known people (ahem) who have done the following at various times out of carelessness or necessity:
- dropped them
- tossed them in the back of a car where they were unaffected by the hot sun pouring down through the windows
- used them as spider-killers
- rested laptops on top of them
- used them as a handy writing desk
- scribbled phone numbers and directions in the back
- read them in the bathtub and dropped them in the water by mistake, leaving said book's pages to blossom out like a giant flower radiating from the spine when they dry.
(I don't have anything to add about the Huntsville tragedy, but please read Historiann and University Diaries for some useful commentary.)