Monday, September 21, 2009

James Tracy, Headmaster of Cushing, Library Update

A few weeks ago, the school library world was in a tizzy over the article in the Boston Globe about the library at Cushing Academy going "bookless." Here is an update from the Headmaster. From reading the letter, Cushing is in step with what is happening at Goucher College and the Atheneum that was built recently.
Libraries are rethinking their place in their communities and rethinking their entire architecture. Recently, during jury duty, I was asked by a fellow juror, "Libraries? What are libraries going to do now that we have the internet?" Good question. Well, looking at these two libraries (Cushing and Goucher) I think libraries need to rebrand themselves and reimagine what they are to their communities. If not, we will be reading more and more about closures (e.g. Philadephia FPL) and soon libraries will really become an endangered species.

Above all, it is important to know that Cushing Academy is not going “bookless.” The issue at hand is merely one of offering books via an electronic or printed medium. Our view of the matter is that we love books so much that we want our students to have dramatically increased access to millions of volumes rather than just 20,000. This year, the library still houses 10,000 volumes, and many of the books that have been removed from the library have found new homes in departmental offices – faculty had “first dibs” on all books before the remainders were donated to nearby schools. Moreover, many teachers continue to assign printed books in their courses, and students are encouraged to read literature in any format they find most convenient. I am delighted to see a Cushing Academy student sitting under a tree reading Chaucer, whether she or he holds a paperback or a Kindle to do so. Be assured that books, in all formats, will continue to abound at Cushing!

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