Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Death of the Book

Reading this article made me sick.  

Quote: “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus.

Books are not outdated. That is what I hate about the info-age zeitgeist: everyone is in such a hurry to make grand pronouncements such as this without thinking them through. And they assume that because technology now is characterized by its fast decline into obsolescence that all old technologies will find similar fates. 

People like this headmaster need to listen to what others have to say. From the same article: “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." - Keith Michael Fiels, Executive Director of the American Library Association. 

I remember visiting the Watertown Free Library when I lived in Massachusetts. It never became the hangout my old university library had been, chiefly because their stacks had dwindled to an embarrassingly small assortment to make way for banks of computers. I realize they are serving a legitimate need for the community to have computer and internet access, but what about the community's need for books? I'm not sure I could have survived the small town I was raised in without the local library. Why has it been so easy for many to forget the value of browsing and reading? 

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