UPDATE2: midnight - Podcast Extra: Library tour and actual plans
A bit of nostalgia in the image to the left... Note the laptops on the tables of course :-)
Clicking on the image or on the next link takes you to a brief story on the surging use of the New York City Library though it's not due to the best of reasons -- but it's a good and welcome resource for those who need to find a job in a world requiring wired access. The article's actual title is "The Library Renaissance."
The article also links back to an article in March on the library's efforts to help jobseekers and points out that "...with Web sites largely having replaced newspapers as the most common job-listing venues, finding work without Internet access has become increasingly difficult."
In connection with the recent story on "A Library Without Books," the Boston Globe article, had said that Cushing Academy had "...decided to give their collection - aside from a few hundred children’s books and valuable antiquarian works - to local schools and libraries," although the Globe's writer, David Abel, mentioned, in another paragraph, that the school's administrators had "decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks " -- many have been disbelieving that a school would do this.
Others, as I mentioned in the Comments area, had seen this as understandable for a school library as opposed to a public library, because in a college-preparatory school like this, the library is used mainly for a quiet and WIRED place for students to go with their laptops. Students are focused on specifically-assigned books, and the Net gives speedier search access to additional information on those assigned topics -- while a public library acts as a physical database of materials the general public can browse at leisure, though they also have considerable wired access now and terrific online-resources, generally.
Also, most junior high and high school libraries don't have 20,000+ books in them.
Cushing Academy has only a few hundred students and the annual fee for attending the school is between $31,200 and $42,850 -- not your average college-prep school.
The reaction has been quite divided, and Len Edgerly of the popular podcast, The Kindle Chronicles, decided to interview the apparent driving force behind the changes, headmaster James Tracy, on the school's library plan. Many are concerned about the precedent.
Edgerly has said on Twitter that "Globe's got it wrong" and expanded a little in an email when I asked him about this before we are able to hear the interview when it is uploaded Friday night 9/11/09 (tonight) to the Kindle Chronicles site. He gave me permission to quote him.
' The TVs are essentially computer monitors, available for kids to work collaboratively on, with controls somehow at their seats. Also, the Globe got it wrong - the school library will have 10k books of the 20k there now, and several other thousand are being distributed to departments. So actual reduction in volumes is about 7K or 8k...
Any volume which was donated to the school as a memorial is being retained in the collection. They see the new library becoming the epicenter of the school for students and faculty, compared with its former reality as a little-used collection of traditional books infrequently visited by anyone...
Slide 4 caption includes this: "Cushing Junior Tia Alliy shelved a heavy volume onto a shelf holding the spared books." In fact, that shelf is one of half the original shelves still in the library." '
That last caption is reassuring when the Boston Globe titled another caption with the contradicting "The school's new "learning center" will have no books -- they have been donated or discarded." -- unless they mean the 'spared' books will be available where they are donated. All in all, it was a very confusing article, as it turns out.
A look at the full range of Dr. Tracy's approach to the topic can be seen in a talk he gave at a symposium, "Libraries Beyond Books: A Call for New Paradigms." It's an interesting read, but his choice of words is not always helpful for his case, which can sound 'extreme' when he writes: "This is why, at Cushing Academy, where we are dedicated to forging the most far-sighted pedagogies for twenty-first century education, we have decided to be bookless within a year."
So, in light of all of the above, I recommend that all interested tune in to The Kindle Chronicles Podcast sometime Friday night to hear or download Len Edgerly's interview with headmaster Tracy. There's now the podcast Extra of a tour of the library and a look at the mockup of their actual plans, with Bruce Lemieux, Director of Technology, and Susie Carlisle, Dean of Faculty and Academics.
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