Would you trust these people with your kid?

Well, of course, not you, but I’m thinking that even parents who haven’t cracked a book in years would think twice about sending their children to a pricey private school without any books in the library. They need to realize, at the least, that college admissions Deciders have a vested interest in validating their own expensive educations and are thus likely to look dimly at applicants who have been told they don’t need books.

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Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

Comments

  1. >I think. . . I think I'll go cry now.

  2. >I assume they've already replaced the cafeteria with a state of the art protein pellet dispensary. How do I enroll?

  3. >I'd feel a lot better about this if they were giving each student an e-reader of some sort (Kindle, etc) but they have only 18 of them… I do think it's possible that books in the form we know them will be replace eventually (although that makes me really sad, for all the obvious reasons) but not like this. The internet won't replace books, the only thing that can is a portable (like, fits in your pocket/weighs three ounces) object that displays text in an easy readable format. I love the internet, but it's no more a book than a TV or the radio is a book (and weren't those supposed to replace books, too?).

  4. sanctimommy says:

    >I was just reading this article. Way back on page 26 or 27 of the comments there's someone who calls herself a Cushing Academy grad who says, and I paraphrase, "of COURSE no one checks out books, we all used them in the library!" I wonder if the headmaster took that into account? My high school didn't have much of a library, but in college I know that I almost never checked books out, even though I certainly used them all the time.

    Rather a horrifying article. Sounds like the headmaster is trying to get some easy press, but I can't see how it won't backfire. Who would send their child to an expensive private school that replaced its library with a cappuccino maker? It sounds like a bad satire.

  5. >"School officials said when they checked library records one day last spring only 48 books had been checked out, and 30 of those were children’s books."

    Maybe the problem isn't the books. Maybe the staff wasn't doing a good job of encouraging the students to read. This seems like a damning admission to me.

  6. >I read all the readers' comments, too, and was finally rewarded to find that somewhere among the readehs of the GLOBE there was one person who recognized the fact that access to BOOKSHELVES might lead a reader/browser to stumble on something new – not just his assignment. For me that was an education in itself – access to the stacks! Most of the readers' comments were on the order of "Not everyone has a Kindle…"

  7. Brussel Sprouts says:

    >This is insanity! Isn’t there a way to keep some of the books, and install the allegedly necessary media? Maybe by cutting out the absurd $50,000 coffee shop with a ridiculous $12,000 cappuccino machine they can find a different solution to purging the school of books. Just because you’ve run out of space for books doesn’t mean that you get rid of ALL of them. There is such a thing as getting rid of some of them. America’s education system acts on pendulum of extremes. There is never any balance and our children suffer greatly in all manner of schools, private or otherwise.

  8. >Hard to believe that this isn't a hoax – but read the headmaster's comments posted separately. "Of course we love books etc etc," At least one of the persons who responded to the Globe's comment line mentioned the serendipity factor of browsing library shelves but most talked about the convenience and ubiquity of Kindles

  9. >My wealthy sister never goes to the library because she can buy her kids all the books they want.

    I'm just sayin' . . .

  10. >A $12,000 capuccino machine? For that price, it should not only caffeinate you, but give you a massage, a warm bath, and a *******.

    I wouldn't want my fourteen-year-old drinking capuccino at school or anywhere else.

    And don't even get me started about them getting rid of their books.

  11. >Anonymous 2:27,
    Libraries have lots of books children of wealthy mothers, like your sister, might not know they want. They can discover them on the shelves or be directed to them there.

  12. >This seems so short-sighted on the part of the headmaster. There are so many issues at play – access to books (stacks versus 18 Kindles); the type of information found in a published book versus online at a website; the reader's engagement with printed matter on paper versus on screen… The other issue is what the school is replacing the books with – TVs, cafes, coffee makers. This isn't "looking to the future" and replacing printed books with digital ones (which would still be problematic). Rather, this is devaluing deep reading and engagement with text in favor of instant communication and gratification in the name of "the future."

  13. sanctimommy says:

    >To Anonymous 2:27: that's all fine and good, and I confess that I purchase far more books than I take out of the library. But a library at a school should be full of harder to find books. They may or may no longer be in print, and are certainly hard to find at the local B&N. And you only really need to read a chapter or two of and then you will gladly never look at it again.

    No matter how wealthy your sister is, it's impractical to shell out for an obscure out of print book about important religious leaders of the world when you just need to write a few paragraphs on St. Augustine by second period tomorrow.

    I'm also going to go along with the crowd that thinks this would be a better idea if they were going to buy everyone a Kindle.

  14. >Even fans of the Kindle, etc. should realize — and most do, I image — that new technologies often end up side by side with older technologies, not entirely replacing them.

    And yes to the wonder of seeing that book on the shelf next to the one you were looking for and thinking Ah!

    I can't think of a kind word for this headmaster.

  15. >Anonymous 2:27

    Was that a dig at libraries . . . or at the wealthy? Did you mean to point out that rich people aren't better, wiser people just because they are rolling in dough? Some for instance, are so clueless, they don't even go to the library?

    Because, of course, one of the fundamental values of a library is the access to information from a source other than your mother.

    I was the first commenter and now that I've had my cry, I am thinking . . . There are going to be some AWESOME book sales at the Ashburnham local library. Somebody go pick me the Sutcliff books, okay? And a set of the Susan Cooper. And if you can get some of the old science fiction books from seventies, that would be great, too.

  16. >Here's a guy who probably sold his stove for scrap when he got his first microwave.

  17. >I taught at t junior high boarding school twenty years ago. Cushing was a "wallet and a pulse school" then. (As in, "What do you need to get into that school?")

    Sounds like nothing has changed.

  18. Sharon Creech says:

    >Not a good idea, Cushing. Not a good idea.

  19. >Has anyone figured out how many books are — and AREN'T — available in Kindle and Sony formats? It ain't every book in the world, that's fer sure.

  20. Roger Sutton says:

    >While I can accept the fact that lots of people like reading on the Kindle (although not I), who can possibly believe it's an efficent or even possible tool for educational use? Try browsing, try looking something up, try underlining. Jeez, try citing. All take complicated workarounds that can only serve to remind the student that she would rather be using a book or computer.

  21. >This sort of decision underscores why Cushing remains a third or fourth tier school.

  22. >this is one way for a 3d-rate school to get PUBLICITY

  23. >Funny commentary on Edward Champion's blog

    http://www.edrants.com/james-tracy-our-digital-martyr/

  24. >Research and pleasure reading are certainly two purposes of a school library, but let's not forget about all those poor teachers who cannot rely on their school library for curriculum support.

  25. >No. I'm an Exeter grad and the alumni would revolt over a decision like that. We've got the largest secondary school library in the country. And I wouldn't consider sending my child to Cushing.

    The experience of reading a book, versus reading a Kindle are different.

    Not to mention that eyestrain on any electronic device is significantly higher than reading printed text.

    I'm sure this struck someone as a good idea and cost saving measure. I'm pretty sure that in a few years they're going to be fundraising to replace all the books when they figure out it was not.

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