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Old 09-04-2009, 10:14 PM   #1
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Thumbs up New England Prep School Throws Away all Their Library Books... Buys 18 Kindles.

Boston Globe: Welcome to the library. Say goodbye to the books.
Cushing Academy embraces a digital future


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This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy’s administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks - the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital...
Quote:
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.

And to replace those old pulpy devices that have transmitted information since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1400s, they have spent $10,000 to buy 18 electronic readers made by Amazon.com and Sony.
More details at the link...

Last edited by Teddman; 09-06-2009 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:19 PM   #2
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Well, thats really nice.

But have they considered that all books aren't available on the Kindle? For instance......Ray Bradbury, Asimov, Michener, just to name a few? The list is endless.

Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater!!
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:17 PM   #3
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I'm angry, sad, depressed and shocked by this. I really hope this is not the beginning of a trend!

At least they gave the books to people who needed them.
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Old 09-05-2009, 01:25 AM   #4
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That is just weak!
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Old 09-05-2009, 01:56 AM   #5
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Hmm, talk about jumping in with both feet.

For some things this makes sense, e.g. there is a huge selection of public domain books that make up a big part of the core curriculum.

However I'm concerned that 18 ebook readers won't be enough to cover the student usage. Sounds like a very low number to me.

Also IMO paper books still and probably always will have a role to play in education, especially art books and others that rely heavily on illustrations. The Internet is not a substitute for a proper monograph.

Plus, blowing $50k on a coffee shop, including $12k on an espresso machine? What's up with that?
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:21 AM   #6
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I think they're jumping the gun - imho, 'electronic readers' aren't yet good enough at presenting many types of non-fiction material.
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:29 AM   #7
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I don't see it.

Rather, I can see local schools ditching their stacks to a central location, I know some UK schools have asked the local libraries to do this allready, and to extend library stack borrowing to the kids (with teacher permission) as-necessary, and I agree this makes total sense - especially when combined with access from the school PC's to JANET and papers and so on from there, again as-necessary.

(How do I know? The selective high school I went to did it last year. I think I was one of only three people in our year who used the stacks even a decade ago.)

But...the entire coffee shop thing stinks to high heaven, and replacing a library entirely with a limited number of e-ink only devices? It's not like they gave every student a classmate PC or something...

Last edited by DawnFalcon; 09-05-2009 at 04:31 AM.
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verencat View Post
I'm angry, sad, depressed and shocked by this. I really hope this is not the beginning of a trend!

At least they gave the books to people who needed them.
The same here.... I love books in general. I would never throw away books. Give them to libraries or schools, yes. Keep them forever in boxes for the next generation, yes. Throw away, no.
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:42 AM   #9
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I think it sounds like a very exciting venture. Premature? Perhaps...but someone has to pave the way to the future.

It took me a while to figure out that I don't love "books." I love reading. The paper books I have go into a box to get ready for the used bookstore as soon as a digital copy becomes available.
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Old 09-05-2009, 10:59 AM   #10
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I have two thoughts/responses to this article.
1. I do agree with vsalvaggio -- I love reading. Period. Physical books are nice, some are beautiful, some are breathtaking, some are fun to handle, etc. But it is the reading that I value the most.

2. I have worked & taught on a college campus that had separate libraries for "undergraduates" and for "graduates" - and have seen the behavior in both. The library in this article is in a prep school - whose students' age would roughly match those using the undergraduate library. Granted, I am using a limited sample of 1 library on 1 campus but over a period of over 10 years, the so-called "undergraduate" library was really an on-campus meet & greet pick-up hang-out, not a library for readers, scholars, or serious students. So adding a coffee bar, expresso machine, big screen TVs - what have you, would fit what I have seen that students of that age group appreciate and want - not silent stacks of dusty books.

Also, the main reason students checked out books from the "undergraduate library" was to avoid having to buy them for assigned readings in class - and they were returned covered with highlights, notes written in ink, etc. - the books were used/abused as text books. So giving them digital copies doesn't seem too far-fetched to avoid this either. It will probably be cheaper than replacing ruined pbooks. Get a deposit on the readers, or include the cost in the school fees, and cut your overhead to computer and coffee-maker maintenance.
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:20 PM   #11
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I was in English major and probably 2/3 of my textbooks were pub domain stuff now available on the internet. The other 1/3 were modern authors not available. If they had ebooks then, I would have saved a ton of money!

That said, my recent experience with e-textbooks was less than inspiring. It had a print button, and that was it. No ability to save the file for off-line reading. No ability to cut and paste it, not for your own backup reference, not even to quote one line of text in a paper. I literally had to manually copy out sentences if I wanted to use them in my work. And for this, I paid $40! Total waste, and I will not choose the e-book option when I next take courses from the institution involved. If I can't read it off-line and I have to manually cut and paste to cite lines in my work, I may as well buy the print copy and have THEM do the printing!
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Old 09-05-2009, 02:26 PM   #12
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I think all the art, science, and other technical books are unlikely to be very readable on an ereader at this stage of technology, even if the books were available. Those need to stay in paper form. Also, what about color?
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Old 09-05-2009, 06:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
....they have spent $10,000 to buy 18 electronic readers made by Amazon.com and Sony.
Perhaps a change in the title to this thread is in order?

Also, I wonder if that $10,000 was entirely spent on readers? That would be something on the order of 350 readers (without figuring any bulk discount)! Since the size of the student body is around the low 400's....maybe they're getting a reader for everyone?

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Old 09-05-2009, 07:01 PM   #14
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Those poor students, never to know the thrill of making out in deserted library stacks.
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Old 09-05-2009, 07:02 PM   #15
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Quote:
....they have spent $10,000 to buy 18 electronic readers made by Amazon.com and Sony.
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Originally Posted by JWLaRue View Post
Also, I wonder if that $10,000 was entirely spent on readers? That would be something on the order of 350 readers (without figuring any bulk discount)! Since the size of the student body is around the low 400's....maybe they're getting a reader for everyone?
My reaction indeed. Though $10,000 will only buy 33 readers at today's street price of $300 apiece. They might, however, have purchased the DX and Daily editions. If these were the regular 6-inch models, though, I'd love to be the salesman who got $555 apiece for the readers.
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