Its 20,000-book collection was barely used, administrators say. Spot checks last year found that, on some days, fewer than 30 books, or about .15%, circulated. And it was becoming rather lonely down there.[...]
So the venerable boarding school west of Boston — the first in the USA to admit both boys and girls — last summer undertook another first: It began getting rid of most of the library's books. In their place: a fully digital collection.[...]
Three big-screen TVs now greet visitors at the entrance, and the old circulation desk is now a coffee bar. Officially it's called Cushing Cyber Cafe, but students quickly nicknamed the spot "12K Cafe" after its $12,000 espresso machine.[...]
He concedes that the $12,000 coffeemaker has become a distraction, but he says the real idea behind the cafe was to create "a new commons, a new agora, where people in a convivial setting exchange ideas and socially interact around ideas with culture and literature at their fingertips."The USA Today article does a good job enumerating the pros and cons of a high school taking this approach with its school library so, if you still find yourself on the fence, you should take the time to read the whole thing. Myself, I have to wonder why these school administrators think that a bunch of students who don't seem to be readers in the first place are suddenly going to become avid readers/users of e-books. I suspect that once the "new" wears off, they will just be watching a lot of television and getting wired on all of the expresso being cranked out by their fancy new coffeemaker.
Private schools can get away with this kind of thing as long as apathetic parents let them but if I were a student there I would hate to have my research limited to only the books available on Amazon.com.
Perhaps Cushing Academy should change its name to Amazon Academy.