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New England Prep School Library Goes Entirely Digital 168

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hope-they-have-kindles-for-checkout dept.
An anonymous reader writes to mention that Cushing Academy has decided to leap into the future by getting rid of all the books in their library and going completely digital. Instead of dusty stacks, the library is spending close to half a million dollars to install all the hallmarks of a digital learning center. Flat screen TVs, "laptop friendly carrels," and a coffee shop are just the first step in building an area that allows students access to millions of books as opposed to several thousand. Of course, not everyone is completely sold on this move: "[Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of the American Library Association] said the move raises at least two concerns: Many of the books on electronic readers and the Internet aren't free and it may become more difficult for students to happen on books with the serendipity made possible by physical browsing. There's also the question of the durability of electronic readers. '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. When that happens, there will be next to no difference between that and a book.'"
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New England Prep School Library Goes Entirely Digital

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  • sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:24PM (#29317441) Homepage Journal

    I love computers, but I love books. This makes me sad.

    • by Em Emalb (452530)

      Yep, nothing says a nice evening home alone like "curling up next to the fire with the kindle"....

      Oh wait. I would hate that. I already "read" a screen for 9+ hours a day, why the hell would I want to do it for recreation* as well?

      *I'm not in school, any reading I do these days that isn't research is done via paperback.

      • by iamacat (583406)

        So what are you doing here reading slashdot instead of curling up next to the fire with a newspaper and writing letters to editors instead of commenting on blogs. Nobody is taking away your books, candles, LPs or fireplaces. It's just most people prefer central heating, electric lights MP3s and digital text when efficiency is needed.

      • I actually prefer reading on my Kindle to most paper books. My eyes go buggy reading on a computer screen, too, but the idea that you can't "curl up" with a Kindle is nonsense. I read my Kindle in my comfy chair, in bed, on the toilet, in the waiting room at the doctor's office, etc.

        The Kindle's display does not make my eyes go buggy at all.

        Really, the only advantage paper books have is that you can't "thumb through" the Kindle, and that graphics / diagrams / photos look like crap on the Kindle.

    • Paper vs. phosphor (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mollog (841386)
      I buy lots of books. And when I get access to pdf files that are user manuals, I frequently print them. Sorry, but I just don't like reading from a computer screen. I do it all day already.

      Yes, digital media is superior in many ways, but I find it easier to browse a printed document than a digital document. Perhaps it's merely a matter of technology; browsing on a computer is not as easy.

      And, I agree that browsing through books on shelves allows for serendipity. Weird, sometimes out-of-print books sho
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grumbel (592662)

      If eBook readers would be more solid and common place with everybody owning them and the whole copyright trouble and DRM issues with eBooks would be solved I could see some point in getting rid of paper books, but doing such a thing today sounds like madness. One just as to look at the numbers: They replace 20.000 books with 18(!) eBook readers...

      • if we can get both (or all three), you could find yourself with a nice Star Trek tablet in you suit pocket.

        Thinner (Oleds), can be ruggerized, with a nice modern multi-touch interface a la Windows7 / apple iphone, wifi + cell phone + bluetooth, webcam with autofocus and tracking, throw in a 30 feet IR emitter and a RF and you have the ultimate companion.

        Ah yes. Lasers. I forgot them !
        holographic messaging !
        drools...

        all of this is possible today. might be expensive, but :
        10 inches OLEDS exist since late 2007

    • by Narpak (961733)

      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. Administrators plan to distribute the readers, which they're stocking with digital material, to students looking to spend more time with literature.

      Those who don't have access to the electronic readers will be expected to do their research and peruse many assigned texts on their computers.

      "Instead of a traditional library with 20,000 books, we're building a virtual library where students will have access to millions of books," said Tracy, whose office shelves remain lined with books. "We see this as a model for the 21st-century school."

      Seems to me that whoever wrote the summary and the guy who is quoted don't get what's going on. Reading a good old book might have its charm, and something I personally enjoy immensely, but with an eye for education, research and the future, a "virtual library" were you can, potentially, search through an index instantly, and even search and cross-reference passages from different works have quite a few practical advantages. Among which is that the number of students that can access any specific work is lim

    • by mikael (484)

      For me, reading 100+ year old mathematics books is a wonder (printed in 1880 or even earlier). For a book that vintage, the language is no different from that used today, but it's a strange feeling to realize that someone's thoughts are being conveyed across time by so many years, even though they are no longer present, except through their great-grandchildren.

  • Terrible idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:24PM (#29317443)

    Let the Ministry of Truth references fly.

    Anyway I can get any book I want digitally already. I go to the library to get a real book to take to waiting rooms and restaurants and such.

    • Re:Terrible idea (Score:4, Interesting)

      by arthurpaliden (939626) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:59PM (#29317857)
      My son's middle school was built at the height of the 'dot-com' craze. It did not have real library (broom closet) just a bunch of computer labs. Two years ago they refit three of the classrooms next to the 'library' and built a real library full of real books.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Frosty Piss (770223)

        My son's middle school was built at the height of the 'dot-com' craze. It did not have real library (broom closet) just a bunch of computer labs. Two years ago they refit three of the classrooms next to the 'library' and built a real library full of real books.

        Indeed. In a few years, the Prep School will end up regretting getting rid of those books, as they budget money for new books for their new library.

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          Indeed... and right now I wish I was close enough to score some volumes from the massive book sale they'll probably hold.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Let the Ministry of Truth references fly.

      Your attitude is double-plus ungood. Please report to the Minstry of Love for retraining.
    • by Maxmin (921568)

      Anyway I can get any book I want digitally already.

      O'Really? Willing to go online Safari but not into the stacks for a classic, eh?

      Joking aside, it's inevitable that new books will be only digital, though that'll take decades to manifest around the entire world.

  • Books are good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by emj (15659) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:25PM (#29317465) Homepage Journal
    Everyone knows you can't beat a book, when you are off grid, but while on grid an ebook is far superior. Libraries are veïry much on grid and should not just contain lots of books, they should make it easy and free to access all this data that is locked up in DRM. We are stuck with DRM at the moment maybe libraries could help us get sane access to the books encumbered with them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brian Gordon (987471)

      I hate DRM as much as the next guy but libraries seem like one of those cases where it's either DRM or no digital content at all. Without DRM I doubt that many books would be copied less than a hundred times a year per library-owned copy. It's absolutely not going to happen for commercial publishers and not going to happen with most academic publishers either.

      • by emj (15659)

        DRM is despicable, it's even worse for libraries. Being able to access DRM-less book on library systems would be very important for an e-library to work. You can't have instant access to all book in your home (because of publishers) but you should be able to have this in an Library.

        I rather not have ebooks if they are DRM:ed.

        • Wait that makes no sense. You just want to be able to access ebooks with no DRM from library computers? If it's from a library computer why do you care if they're DRMed or not? A non-DRM library system out of which you can't get ebook data is functionally equivalent to a DRM library system.

          Getting data out of the locked down non-DRM system does sound like a fun problem though. Maybe you could manually type in and compile a QR code [wikipedia.org] generator and hold up your phone and record a video of the screen while it fl

          • by emj (15659)

            Yeah maybe it's stupid but I want DRM-less access to books, it doesn't matter if the terminal has no net connection, as long as a I can do analysis on it.

            Mmm, QR codes, I've tried that, turns out taking good quality photos of a screen is harder than it looks.. :-) Meaning it's almost easier to photograph-scan a book than to use QR-code. (Though I've only did the QR thing for 10 minutes, and I've spent 10 days scanning books with a camera [instructables.com], so I guess it will probably work if you spend some time on it).

      • by iamacat (583406)

        This doesn't make any sense. A library book or DVD can already be checked out free of charge many times per year and yet bookstores are still around. Why would digital content be any different? Are you saying the MAIN reason people buy a book/movie is because a library copy is checked out or needs to be returned in two weeks?

        • by emj (15659)
          No they buy stuff because they want to collect them. If you can just download all books in a library some ppl would do this.. :-)
  • The Gutenberg brothers are coming . . . and they won't be happy.

  • by Duradin (1261418) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:26PM (#29317479)

    I guess they couldn't fit the starbucks in with all those shelves taking up space.

  • by neonprimetime (528653) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:27PM (#29317487)
    ... to read a book on paper than on a computer screen.
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      That is what e-ink is trying to correct.

      • I find it easier to read a book on paper than eInk too, but only just. The big advantage eInk has is that I can pack enough fiction to last a month and a decent reference library onto a device that almost fits in my pocket. The big disadvantage is that I can't use it in the bath.
  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) <curmudgeon99 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:28PM (#29317499)
    As I look around my room I see all the books that I have finished or want to read. When I have finished a paper book, I see the pages dwindling as I reach the end. The book has weight and after I've read it I feel that heft and know that I've done something worth while.

    I don't have a kindle and doubt I would ever buy one. I love turning physical pages. I like the durability. I like that I can have four books going and open at the same time. I like the book jackets and am very close to getting a novel of my own published.

    The paper book is not at all threatened by the kindle. Not in the slightest.
    • by emj (15659)
      I have a hard time seeing you reading ebooks at all, at least when you say this. But I must agree with you that there are some types of books that are wonderful to read in paper. Though most books are just cheap pulp from dead trees between an even cheaper looking cover, and these gain from the feel sturdiness of an daylight readable OLPC, with backlight for the nighttime. The cheap books are good to read as ebooks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by raddan (519638) *
      I, too, am a big fan of the physical book. I have lots of them. They're the thing that makes moving to a new apartment unpleasant, but they add so much to my life that they're worth it. And I especially love to browse a bookshelf, pick one up, and flip to a random page.

      That said, e-books are very compelling to me for one reason: I could carry my entire library with me at all times. My 32GB hacked iPod mini really changed the way I listen to and enjoy music. Before, if I went somewhere, I had to thin
      • You hit on a number of important reasons why books are advantageous compared to e-readers. There is also the issue of format. Real books come in a very wide variety of sizes, many times for a reason. Some things just aren't meant for a 5 or 6" screen. e-readers are also sterile when compared to a real book which offers tactile and other sensory input (smell, look, sounds).

        However what e-readers do offer is convenience and an easy to read screen (unlike lcds). They have their place and I do own one. B

    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:41PM (#29317675)

      >I don't have a kindle and doubt I would ever buy one.

      This is like my grandpa saying he'll never use email or the horse and buggy guy sneering at the first car.

      >The paper book is not at all threatened by the kindle. Not in the slightest.

      When was the last time you wrote a letter? Or bought a CD? Or used an old fashioned card catalog? Digital books are damn convenient and once these readers start hitting 99 dollars its really over for the paper book. What a waste of resources they are: The growing and cutting of trees. The inks. The printing, etc. And all the room they take up!

      Ironically, the only kindle owner I know is a 68 yo woman who has no love for technology. She got it as a gift and really loves it. If amazon is winning over technophobes like this then its really just a matter of time until they come around as they realize the convenience. Right near its early adopters only, but its getting there.

      • I just spent 20minues trying to find an environmental effect analysis of ereaders vs reading news papers delivered to your door step. I couldn't find it but I know it exists and it says they have more or less the same effect.

      • Some good points (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mollog (841386) on Friday September 04, 2009 @06:17PM (#29318055)
        I know I'm a bit of a Luddite, but I, too, don't consider buying ebooks. And I would buy more CDs if they would lower the price to something reasonable. Like $5. But I do buy CDs.

        But you make good points. My (baby boom) generation won't be the consumers of this new media as much as the following generations.

        One of my complaints is that technology turns out to be so disposable. Today's whizzy book reader is tomorrow's broken, toxic waste. I've got old computers, old CRT monitors, old disk drives, printers, scanners, motherboards, TVs, you name it. You say that books are a waste of resources that take up space. I say books are easily recyclable and that Kindles are yet another flash-in-the-pan piece of go-seh.

        You can have my books when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. ;)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by curmudgeon99 (1040054)
        There are many examples of retired technology. I don't use floppies, don't write code in COBOL or VB and don't use CDs. I stopped watching TV a long time ago. I write software for a living and have for a 13 years.

        However, I still write the first draft of my fiction on a 1917 Royal manual typewriter, listen to Mozart and Haydn and read hardback books such as the current one I'm reading about the fight to build the Hubble Space Telescope.

        There are some things that have not been surpassed.
      • by westlake (615356)

        Or used an old fashioned card catalog?

        The old fashioned card catalog was cross-indexed by subject and I miss it.

        What a waste of resources they are: The growing and cutting of trees. The inks. The printing, etc. And all the room they take up!

        What you see as waste, I see as craft.

        I discovered a long time ago that I cared about materials and workmanship. Color. Illustration. Design. Typography.

        There are books on these shelves more than a century old - and others that should remain intact and readable for 2

      • Ironically, the only kindle owner I know is a 68 yo woman who has no love for technology. She got it as a gift and really loves it. If amazon is winning over technophobes like this then its really just a matter of time until they come around as they realize the convenience. Right near its early adopters only, but its getting there.

        Unfortunately she doesn't understand that when Amazon goes out of business her "books" will no longer be accessible. When Penguin, or Bantam Spectra, or Addison Wesley, or O'Rei

    • The paper book is not at all threatened by the kindle. Not in the slightest.

      Books are becoming luxury items. A starving student might get a hard copy of her very favorite book, but she can get the same content over the internet without paying. If you can stomach reading on a computer screen then you don't really need books.

      • By the same logic, if you can stand drinking gutter water and eating out of trashcans, you never need to spend money on food. (In other words, that's a pretty big 'if'.)
        • Well I can read from a computer screen. It's not that unusual

          • Well, standing in the parking lot eating a doughy half-warm microwave chicken sandwich for $2.75 and sitting down at your grandmother's to a table full of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy are both 'eating'. Reading on a screen is fine but it's not what launched a nearly 600-year-old technology that has still not been equaled--the bound book. The extreme pleasure of reading books is what kept reading high on the list of pasttimes and helped our world to benefit from many educated people, from women who
      • A starving student might get a hard copy of her very favorite book, but she can get the same content over the internet without paying. If you can stomach reading on a computer screen then you don't really need books.

        Not true. A lot of books are not available online. One of the biggest areas of books that is not online is textbooks. Publishers of textbooks are not willing to give up their cash cow for convenience to the students.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "As I look around my room I see all the books that I have finished or want to read. When I have finished a paper book, I see the pages dwindling as I reach the end. The book has weight and after I've read it I feel that heft and know that I've done something worth while."

      Very well for those with the money and storage space. I don't care to pay for a book I'll read once and either have to store, sell, give away, or take to be recycled.

      • You're wrong on all accounts. I live in a tiny New York City apartment and have at least a thousand books.

        There is nothing better than walking up to a friend at work and just springing a book on them. Just last week I went and handed a project manager I know a biography of Jack Kerouac. His weekend was made. You can't give away your kindle books, can you? Or see them after you close the file, except for a line in a directory, right?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 04, 2009 @06:18PM (#29318069)

      As I type this comment I have in front of me the 1892 edition of Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader. At the foot of page 105 I can read the signature of a Jean Macalister dated March 15 1909. This signature personalizes the particular volume across time and I feel a bond with Jean even though our only link is our common the struggle with Sweet. Kindle can never provide this. However, another question arises: What Kindle version will be required to read the 2009 ebook edition in 2109?

      I hold the same physical volume that Jean held a century ago. It requires no software or hardware upgrades to enable me to read it. No owner of this book has ever had to re-boot it because it was locked up. No one has ever had to recover it from backup. Its battery has never died. And because of its content, no one but another Anglo-Saxon scholar is likely to want to steal it. None of these statement is true for Krindle (or any other gadget).

      I think people who use electronic readers are consumers of text (and there's nothing wrong with that). But for people for whom a book has a longer life, factors other than information content, narrowly defined, are more important in determining a book's value. A book is easy to use, it's portable, robust and you own it. The last point is worth noting, since your bookseller could not legally come into your house to retrieve a book that he claims was sold to you in error.

      Summary: ebooks are useful but they certainly aren't books.

      PS: AFAIK The Oxford University Press is not planning a digital version of Sweet's classic text.

      • Bravo!
      • by nbauman (624611)

        As I type this comment I have in front of me the 1892 edition of Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader. At the foot of page 105 I can read the signature of a Jean Macalister dated March 15 1909.

        I picked up a copy of Vergil's Aeneid in a thrift shop for fifty cents. When I got to the part about Dido and Aeneas, there were hearts and flowers drawn in the margin in a feminine hand.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      You can't just browse an ebook -- or at least it's a lot harder to do.

      I've also found that a work I just couldn't get into as an ebook, I find quite readable as a real book. (And I'm quite accustomed to ebooks, so unfamiliarity with the medium is not the issue.)

      I think this will quite effectively discourage casual reading and fuzzy research, by limiting it to what is readily available, AND happens to fit the search terms you can remember at that moment. No more "that looks interesting" and "I thought I saw

  • by popo (107611) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:28PM (#29317503) Homepage

    "Unless every student has a Kindle and an unlimited budget, I don't see how that need is going to be met,' "

    What part of "New England Prep School" did you not understand, Keith?

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:31PM (#29317549) Journal

    As computers are completely interchangeable, and if the library is in fact Digital it can easily be backed up somewhere. So long as the data is stored on a backup server you won't lose it on the library end. And Netbooks around here are becoming cheap as dirt, you can get one of those for under 300 dollars, or an old old lappy for under 200. Cheaper than a vehicle, which a fair deal of College students can afford.

    They mention that books online aren't free, no, they aren't, but assuming your going digital you should be able to get digital copies (manual scans if you have to) of the books you already have and offer them for free, that way you aren't taking away any of the content they'd regularily have to. You're essentially making it easier for those who DO have money though.

    The REAL issues you come across are sources and citations. A friend of mine is majoring in Ancient Mideivel history and Archeology (I know, good luck with that, right?) and the biggest issue when he has to write a paper is some crap about it having to come from a peer reviewed source or some scholarly document. BASICALLY, in order for them to use any quotes or facts in their papers (which they must have at least 10 quotes in every paper) they have to go through the trouble of FINDING a book that has a check mark by some organization or another (Unesco? Maybe? I don't know).

    The internet has tons of information but little of it will be credible for humanities students.

    • The REAL issues you come across are sources and citations. A friend of mine is majoring in Ancient Mideivel history and Archeology (I know, good luck with that, right?) and the biggest issue when he has to write a paper is some crap about it having to come from a peer reviewed source or some scholarly document. BASICALLY, in order for them to use any quotes or facts in their papers (which they must have at least 10 quotes in every paper) they have to go through the trouble of FINDING a book that has a check

    • by raddan (519638) *

      The internet has tons of information but little of it will be credible for humanities students.

      This just highlights a problem that's always existed: what cognitive authority do you trust? Before the Internet, you really only had the appearance of authority, because very few people could afford the expense of publishing a book. The cost of publishing on the Internet is negligible (by comparison, at least), and so more people can do it. But I'm not sure that the wackjob:scholar ratio has changed; e.g., Andrew Weil [wikipedia.org]'s alternative medicine empire has been spewing out unsubstantiated claims for years.

    • I mean I understand the need for such a system to be in place, I mean I personally have never had to encounter it because I took computer sciences, if something was false it was apparent and obvious. So when he complains he can't get the book he needs from the University Campus because someone else has it checked out... So I tell him to Google the topic, he tells me about how that isn't going to help him much. What he ends up having to do is either looking up a list of books and trying to find the ones that

    • by nbauman (624611)

      if the library is in fact Digital it can easily be backed up somewhere.

      Yes, but it may be backed up on a publisher's server behind a pay for access firewall.

      I used to subscribe to the New York Times online for $50 a year, and I could get any article 150 years back -- in other words, any article I ever read in the NYT in my entire life. Then they changed the terms of service, and made the archive free back to (I think) 1980, and then $4 or something an article before then. I'm not going to pay $4 an article, so as far as home access is concerned, it's gone forever.

      Science libra

    • They mention that books online aren't free, no, they aren't, but assuming your going digital you should be able to get digital copies (manual scans if you have to) of the books you already have and offer them for free, that way you aren't taking away any of the content they'd regularily have to.

      Sure if you don't mind violating copyright. Most libraries won't even consider violating copyrighted works and risk pissing off publishers.

  • by Azureflare (645778) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:34PM (#29317597)
    This defeats the whole purpose of the library. You go there so you have free access to books. If you end up having to pay for them, how is that different from buying it anywhere else?

    Sounds like they just wanted to get rid of the library and use the building space for something else. Oh yes, here we go:

    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.

    Oh look, beancounters deciding to abandon the literary arts! What a surprise. Except not, since this is America after all. At least they donated them rather than burning them or throwing them out.

    The sad part is they additionally justify this by saying the library wasn't used very much.

    Tia Alliy, a 16-year-old junior, said she visits the library nearly every day, but only once looked for a book in the stacks. She's not alone. School officials said when they checked library records one day last spring only 48 books had been checked out, and 30 of those were children's books.

    How can they possibly tell how the library is utilized by checkout rates? The whole point of a school library is to go there, find a book you need to reference, make copies of the relevant pages, and go.

    • by emj (15659)

      they checked library records one day last spring only 48 books had been checked out, and 30 of those were children's books.

      How can they possibly tell how the library is utilized by checkout rates? The whole point of a school library is to go there, find a book you need to reference, make copies of the relevant pages, and go.

      But you can still do that, just just print out the pages you want.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Libraries are on their way out, we're already slipping into an information dark age. The modern library wouldn't have a chance in hell if it were invented today. I mean just imagine trying to convince publishers today to not only let people read their books for free, but to let them take them home, you'd be thrown out on your ass. We're living in a time where there's a wealth of information, but it's so locked up that you can't do anything with it unless you're wealthy.
      • by Narpak (961733)

        Libraries are on their way out, we're already slipping into an information dark age.

        I don't know how things are going where you live, but in Norway the public libraries are going on as before. Not only that but many, soon enough all, are digitizing their archive of books, newspapers and other papers so that they can be accessed by computers in the library. Some of the computers also provide internet access for free.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      The whole point of a school library is to go there, find a book you need to reference, make copies of the relevant pages, and go. I thought the whole point of a school library was to go there, check out the back issues of Playboy on microfilm, and make prints of the best pic... er, articles. Sorry, my bad! (Yes, the UofA library did have back issues of Playboy on microfilm when I was in highschool. For reasons I could never fathom, they appeared to have concentrated on preserving the text and skipped over m
  • by fantomas (94850) on Friday September 04, 2009 @05:35PM (#29317601)

    "Dusty stacks" - hmm... you mean books which still work even though they are 5, 10, or more years old. How many people would be happy with their children learning using ten year old computers? Most tech is useless after 3 or 4 years, let alone ten years.

    Works for a super rich private school, not going to happen in the public sector.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Planesdragon (210349)

      Most tech is useless after 3 or 4 years, let alone ten years.

      consumer-level tech is essentially value-less after 10 years... but it's not useless any more than a chalkboard is.

  • The Wong Library, it houses the largest collection of literature in the universe.
    http://theinfosphere.org/File:MarsUniversityWongLibraryLitCollection.png [theinfosphere.org]

  • Will it cost a lot more to run, since they will be drawing extra power, compared to maintaining books (re-binding, protecting covers, etc)? Will they allow the loaning of digital books, and will the amount of copies be artificially limited? Will this cost less than buying books? Will they be sponsored by any groups that will have an exclusive deal on what encyclopedias, atlases, and other reference books are available, or will they be unbiased and allow access to all "brands"? They say they will only ha
  • I know I could take a Kindle into the 'executive reading room', but just seems so wrong.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Well, you can tear pages out of a book when you run out of paper, but a kindle just doesn't seem to work nearly as well (as kindling for building a fire... now get your mind out of the gutter!)
  • In some of my classes in the past were "open book." So this made me wonder, if I was at this school and my eBook reader had an issue (crashed/battery dead/accidentally deleted the book) what would happen? With a physical textbook, I'm not sure there's any equivalent, since you're really only allowed the exam, the book and a pencil/eraser.

    If eBook readers were allowed, what would prevent a student from carrying a library worth of books with them?

    To me this smells like someone got the "Hey! Computers will

    • If eBook readers were allowed, what would prevent a student from carrying a library worth of books with them?

      Why would any sensible society want to stop students from carrying a library full of books with them, even into tests? If your test is on memorizing facts that can be easily looked up in a library of books, then the test is crap. There are a few, very specific cases where specialists actually need data memorized for use cases where they won't have access (EMT for example) but for all the rest we should not consider rote memorization to be education. Tests should be on the ability to apply knowledge usefully

      • Let's see you close the divide between the "Haves" and the "Have nots." Not every family can afford to send their kid to a $45k/yr school http://www.cushing.org/admission/tuition.shtml [cushing.org]. Let's see what would we rather do... spend $500k to eliminate the library, or pay for teachers, licensing fees for books, pencils, specialists (art/music/gym teachers)....

        Let me know when you get back to reality from your "let's see students actually put together reagents in a computer simulation such that they achieve the

        • Let's see you close the divide between the "Haves" and the "Have nots."

          We've certainly been working on it and project pioneered at wealthy private schools often are later implemented at public schools. But this isn't a question of money, since it is a private school, simply of effectiveness. Maine, for example, now gives every student a laptop. Since they have already committed to that expense, e-textbooks, especially free ones as well as e-curriculum such as I describe become an increasingly viable and cost effective solution. Pay some people to write the software once and su

  • Agriculture, organized government, dynamite and computers all had negative side effects on society, but few would go back to hunting and gathering. Similarly electronic books bring problems of overused DRM, device durability and availability of titles and loss of library/bookstore culture. Yet most people are used to many conveniences of Internet and will not take advantage of availability/durability/fair use of paper books if they are not able to find them through a search engine, immediately get a copy ov

  • I am presently going back to school to get a Master's in Libary and Information Sciences. After having worked 15 years in various IT fields, I am looking forward to getting into a career with books.

    Innovation is great, and appreciated in libraries when it serves a useful purpose. But as has been mentioned by others, technology changes quickly, and becomes obsolete just as quickly.

    This prep-school library is trying something new, and I'm all for them trying. But getting rid of tried-and-proven technology

  • I'm not sure if this is a great idea or not, but I have to say that if they do it right, a digital library would make it easier to find things through serendipity. Consider digital music.

    Before the Internet, the way to find new music were limited: magazines, word-of-mouth, or hearing it on the radio. If you went to cool record stores with cool people working there, they could tell you about cool new music; or maybe you could listen to a radio show with a DJ who would find new stuff and share it with you.

  • When the library of Alexandria was burned down (or the scrolls used as fuel), most of the ancient world was lost. Is this how we will lose our current world? Through unaccessible electronic bits?
  • How many of the books that they're pulping are actually available out there with no additional cost? Not that many. This school will either be putting out a lot of money to license content in the digital format(s) that it previously owned in print or their students will learn the joy of researching from "snippet" view in Google Books.

    Project Gutenberg and various free sources are good enough for accessing some pre-copyright books but, honestly, even as a researcher who specializes in 16th century books,
  • Okay, I read the entire article (strike one, I know...). There's very little info there, unfortunately. I came away with the impression that this "step into the future" was conceived, driven, and promoted by someone who had the power to do so but probably lacked the necessary technical knowledge to do it successfully - or even to ask the right questions.

    Here are couple unanswered questions that immediately spring to mind - feel free to add your own:

    - Are the students expected for the most part to only use t

  • Although I prefer paper books as well, I don't have a big problem with electronic books, except .. where do you get them? Are they really available? As far as I know, most books simply aren't available in electronic form. Sure, Project Gutenberg has some, but that's obviously a highly limited selection.

    Unless... wait a minute. (RTAing.) They're spending a shitload of money on Amazon Kindles. (Ooh, and everyone's fuck-you-in-the-ass company is mentioned too: Sony.)

    Wait .. you mean DRMed books, from Amazo

  • It is simply not cost effective and may even be contrary to the goal of education in the US. Our educators are told they are in the business of making cogs (for business of course), not thinkers!
  • Though I do agree with him somewhat about browsing, I'm discovering that serendipity is equally possible on the internet. The only real issue I see here are the copyright issues when students 'borrow' a book from the library.

    1) Cost (apart from a reader) isn't an issue for the students because it's a library, not a book store

    2) I spilled coffee on my e-book reader this morning and it still works. Even if it didn't, the contents of the SD card would likely be safe and the copy on my computer definitely wou

  • Abombination! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hitman_Frost (798840)

    And no - I am not over-reacting. I recently visited my home town and thought I'd check out the old city library which I heard had been given a big makeover.

    It was like visiting a shopping mall. Modern and clean, but no character whatsoever. Most of one entire floor out of the five was nothing but PCs inhabited by large amounts of students who already have more than enough access to the net as it is. There was a coffee shop, a crÃche, another entire floor dedicated to meeting and conference rooms. One f

  • Is how old-school the guy pushing the change is. The world is full of techno-utopians pushing new media(Heck, I was pretty sure that one of Gates' dot-com e-academies had already built a bookless "media center" probably with Gates' precious tablet PCs). However, Cushing is an old New England prep school, not what you'd think of as a hotbed of new media-ism. And Dr. Tracy, the headmaster, isn't either:

    "Dr. Tracy joined Cushing on July 1, 2006, after serving as Headmaster of Boston University Academy, an in
  • The new Hanley Technical School also has a library bereft of books. It is technology friendly though.

    I'm trying to go as paperless as I can but the powers that be and the DMCA kind of defeat the purpose in that.
  • by nbauman (624611) on Friday September 04, 2009 @10:57PM (#29320307) Homepage Journal

    The NYPL is doing something similar. President Paul LeClerc got a ton of money from wealthy contributors, and he's de-emphasizing the print collection and boosting the digital collections.

    The signature example of that was selling the Donnell Library on 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue, directly across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/07/arts/design/07nypl.html [nytimes.com] The Donnell was a landmark library for 50 years, that people grew up with, and a magnet for teenage science nerds, poetry fans, etc., from around the City and neighboring suburbs. They had the best collection of science books for children and teenagers I've ever seen, and one of the first record and film collections. LeClerc made a deal with a hotel to tear down the Donnell Library (which he's already done) and build a hotel in its place, with a library half the size in the basement (that part of the deal fell through with the financial crisis). The theory was that the new library wouldn't need as many books, because it would have a big digital collection.

    In general, LeClerc is leading the NYPL to build up its digital collection at the expense of the paper collection. This is good in some ways, if I want to look something up in their digital newspaper collection, or some of their digital science and technology journals. It's bad in other ways, since most of the major medical journals I want to read are too expensive for them to subscribe to online. (Most journals charge libraries a fee based on the number of students and faculty in their school, and a NYPL librarian told me that the New England Journal of Medicine would charge them a fee based on the entire population of New York.)

    With infinite money (or far enough in the future), a digital collection could be as good as or better than a paper collection for most (but not all) purposes, and might be better overall. But with the money and technology they have now, a digital collection loses an awful lot.

    The librarians told me that the Donnell had special collections, such as foreign language collections in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Polish, Arabic, Persian, Chinese, Yiddish (!), and every language they speak in New York -- more languages than Google. When they closed the Donnell, they broke up the collection, and most of the books were just thrown out as garbage. (I once looked up some books from the 1960s in Spanish on Mexican murals. When Isaac Bashevits Singer won the Nobel Prize, I looked up some of his Yiddish short stories and struggled through them with my German and Hebrew.)

    In the 1980s, I worked for McGraw-Hill, and one of the best things about that company was that I could use the McGraw-Hill library. McGraw-Hill published about 50 business and technical magazines in the electrical, mining, machining, chemical, aerospace and I forgot what other industries. They had files of trade magazines going back to 1917, with standard reference books for every industry, and a book division with elementary, high school and college textbooks (think Samuelson's Economics), and classic business and technical books. They also had a great journalism collection. The guys who built the electrical industry in the 1930s wrote articles about it for McGraw-Hill magazines. You could stand in front of the bookshelf on that industry and get a good idea of what the industry was all about.

    The top management was really pushing computerization. They decided to throw out all the books and magazines and replace them with Nexis and other databases (because the McGraw-Hill magazines were on Nexis, they got a special deal). Realize that this was a publishing company, whose employees had dedicated their lives to books. Instead of getting a book or magazine, all you could get was 20-page printouts (dot matrix, no pictures). We used to refer to it as the Alexandrian Library at McGraw-Hill.

  • The Stacks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Seraphim_72 (622457) on Saturday September 05, 2009 @12:59AM (#29320939)
    When I went to college and decided to sit down and study for the first time, I did what I thought college students were supposed to do. I went to the library. Now mind you, this was one of many at the Big 10 school I went to, and it was one of the two largest. After several hours I thought I would take a break and I wandered bout the lobby area. After going back and studying a bit more I again took a break and discovered that I could walk The Stacks. Case after case after case of books. And the way it was set up you could see both up and down to see entire more floors of nothing but books. I read spine after spine and wandered up and down rows and rows of books going up and down floors while I was at it. After a while I felt bad about not studying so I returned to my study area. As I got there they announced the library was closing for the night. I had been lost in The Stacks for close to 4 hours.

    I tried to study there again with the same results. I learned to not study at the library, but rather to use it to learn about things that I never had even thought to ask a question about. Wandering The Stacks became a Zen like activity in the pursuit of learning. No electronic library will ever be its equivalent. No electronic library will ever allow you to simply turn around to discover a hundred year old chemistry book set in an old Gothic font or present you with books long out of print. No thank you, I will wander The Stacks, I will walk a hundred paces, stop, take out the book at my right knee, and learn.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

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