Many people have strong opinions about this transition. At the time of this writing there were 440 comments about this news story on the website. There is also a CNN write up about the transition from paper to electronic books. The tech community is also little buzzed about this decision. Check out the comments from the tech blog, Engadget.
The librarian and book bloggers communities are extremely concerned over this switch in book media.
Brian's Book Blog:
Okay, I feel better now. I just don’t understand how they feel that this is a good idea. A print book won’t shut down if it looses battery power. A print book doesn’t get recalled from your shelf like an eBook might from your Kindle.The Luscious Librarian:
Now, I'm all for technology, especially when you're referring to information that is updated on a daily basis like reference information found in encyclopedias, but that kind of information is not free and requires a subscription. It's also easily controlled or changed depending on who is reviewing and posting the information, the interest groups the information supports or denounces.Lisa Gold:
This is stupid on so many levels that I forced myself to wait a full day before blogging about it so I wouldn’t rant incoherently. Let me just pose a few questions:
- Did the librarians of Cushing Academy try to explain to their headmaster that only a small percentage of works are available in digital form, and that most of those aren’t free?
- Before discarding their 20,000 printed books, did they consider checking to see which ones aren’t available in digital form and keeping those? (In my experience many of the best reference works only exist in print form.)
- Did they think about the fact that even if the library pays to subscribe to subscription databases and encourages the use of free public domain works (Google Books, Project Gutenberg, etc.), that still means students won’t have access to the vast majority of works published after 1922 and still under copyright?
My Thoughts But More FeelingsI love books. I love the smell of them. I love to hold them and goodness knows I have a few in my bed waiting for me to catch up.
So hearing about a school voluntarily dismantling the library has me at near tears. I don't care if they are rich kids. Every child and teenager needs access to books. I want them to have access to Judy Blume, Malcolm X, and any science fiction book. I'd even put up a scuffle for the sports books and I don't care about sports.
Why? Because books saved my life as a kid. Seriously. Everything from Go Dog Go to Encyclopedia Brown to why do people hate each other? I know how powerful the right book can be in the hands of a person in need.
I would walk the stacks just looking for that book that would call out to me. And if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about then why are you in the library program or reading this post?
This is personal! (and my opinion does not reflect upon PCC or Shatford Library.)
Yes, I like tech and gadgets. Always have and always will. But books are my home. Paper books. When I need to escape and I have no money where do I turn to? A book. When I am searching a past that I have no information on where do I look? I can find an out of print book that has what I need. That out of print book is not going to be in a Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader.
My connection to the pulp is similar to BookishGal on her post about keeping books. I can't throw them out. I pick up stray books if I think they are at risk for disposal.
So to read of someone who is a so-called educator who is proud that they discarded 20,000 books for a $12,000 coffee machine I get teary. And angry. And sad.
Look, I knew the transition was coming. I tried to tell people. But is should be a transition, not a dad gummed purge. This is not the last of it. The state of California is planning to use e-textbooks and will phase them in over time. Textbook publishers are getting read to produce custom content textbooks in electronic form.
Textbooks in electronic form have a places in schools. There is no stopping that process. But literature, philosophy and boatloads of history books cannot effectively be transferred to electronic devices at this time.
This is a loss when even one school library does it. It must not become a trend. If this summer has taught us anything it is that there is no pride in being willfully stupid. It is not a badge of honor.
We can do better than this. We must be informed and, when given the opportunity, speak up.