Following on from Michael’s post yesterday, I found this (to my mind) rather sad article at Boston.com. Cushing Academy in New England has got rid of books in favour of large TV screens projecting data from the internet. Headmaster of Cushing says “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books”. The future is digital, he says. They spent $10,000 to buy 18 electronic readers – that’s a lot of money for very few readers. “Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.” How sad is that? What a complete waste of money, I feel. Coffee is more important apparently. What if, as Michael asked, there’s a power cut? Where does that leave the students of Cushing Academy?
Books may be an old technology but I don’t think they’re outdated yet. I for one, will not be buying an e-book anytime soon. I certainly will not read any lengthy text on a screen. I do not want to be tied to a computer or electronic device. In the event of a power cut and without batteries, I can read a book by candlelight. At a library with books, I can browse neighbouring books to the one I might have found by electronic means (or simply by going to the general section of interest) and find something, the search terms of which I may never have thought of.
The age of the short attention span is upon us and, sadly, that means no-one will read in-depth. On an e-book I can imagine students searching for key words to read only what they feel is necessary for an assignment without the background information which helps fully understand a subject.
Thankfully, not everyone agrees with the headmaster’s vision and I hope not too many libraries will follow his example. Be it ever so humble, there’s nothing like a book.