Cushing Academy has all the hallmarks of a New England prep school, with one exception. This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy’s administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks - the classics, literature, fiction, novels, poetry, history, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital. "When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books", said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. “This isn’t ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (the 1953 Ray Bradbury novel in which books are banned). We’re not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology".
As the folks on engadget say "unless there are only 18 students at Cushing Academy, we're pretty sure the e-reader supply is going to come up short". The book is at the height of information technology, not the bottom, and I will tell you why. The book never needs an upgrade,it is extremely inexpensive making it available to the poorest of the poor and the rich alike, the only energy source required to read it is sunlight, and the only knowledge one needs to attain to decode it's contents is reading. 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.
Once a book is published it can only disappear if it's burned, all the e-readers need to do is catch a virus or miss an upgrade and it's useless. The entire move seems ridiculous. Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a "learning center", though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine. This is a prep school so I guess the charge of elitism is a cheap shot, but in this case they deserve it, and I use that term with a focus on being out of touch with reality. I honestly doubt kids are going to curl up with Twilight or even Anna Karenina at a coffee shop with their e-reader.