Monday, February 1, 2010

The library without books has lots of empty shelves

Kind of an old article, but: prep school near Boston is swapping their library full of books for a 'learning center' with Kindles, laptop spaces, and a coffee bar.

I'm just going to point out a couple things:
1) Digital copies don't degrade and can be used by an infinite number of users at once, yes, but they're more often rented than bought, so the school had better keep their subscriptions up-to-date.
2) They'd better keep their technology up-to-date, too. I'd hate to be the guy who authorized the buying of a hundred Kindles and then saw Apple announcing the iPad.
3) To Mr. William Powers, who has written the forthcoming book Hamlet’s Blackberry: Why Paper is Eternal, and who notes "Without books, students are more likely to do the grazing or quick reading that screens enable, rather than be by themselves with the author’s ideas," I would say: yes, but with a laptop/iPad/brain implant, you can immediately browse outwards to check the author's facts, follow arguments into other texts, and generally expand the intellectual environment one currently resides in.

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