A boarding-school library in New England has completely eliminated the old stacks and gone digital.

“If I look outside my window,” Tracy says, “and I see my student reading Chaucer under a tree, it is utterly immaterial to me whether they’re doing so by way of a Kindle or by way of a paperback.”

This is interesting to me, not because it’s cutting edge – it actually seems well past due for libraries to make the jump to an electronic format – but because the of the backlash they seem to be getting. Who wouldn’t rather have a giant beautiful old book to carry around? But we’ve entered the century with 6 billion confederates riding around on this tiny rock of ours, and the only way were going to make it to the next century is by educating the hell out of everybody.

That means we need to be pushing out all our information to as many people, as possibly as quickly as possibly. The internet provides that, but libraries need to be the linchpin of the strategy – to promote the database if knowledge, the new methods of research – to teach the next generation the all important task of how to educate themselves. But the format, the easiest cheapest way to disseminate knowledge to the remotest poorest parts of the world is electrically. Monks used to hand-write books and the global knowledge-base was proportionately small. Then came Gutenberg. Now comes something else.

2 replies
  1. srt
    srt says:

    As the resident Luddite, I am troubled by this article.
    Whether it is my mis-trust in having all of our knowledge stored for posterity in the form of easily manipulatable ones and zeroes, or the fear of a good size EMP instantaneously wiping out said knowledge, or the fact that, if I did want to read Chaucer under a tree, I have yet to find a viewscreen that can stand up to the light.

    A thing to remember is that those that control the knowledge don’t want the little people to use that knowledge (have our public schools improved any in the last few decades?). Studies show that people skim screens – but read paper – making retention superficial. Going paperless just works toward the further dumming down of those who should know better… know more.

    Y’all may say that my aluminum foil ballcap is fitting too tight – but give me a book.

    • wadeferd
      wadeferd says:

      You make some fine points here, good sir, but I believe that the future existence of our libraries as hard-copy could be in doubt. I would venture that your publishing houses, your library boards (Texas State Board of education for a very scary example) – represent a far more frightening controlling presence on our repositories of knowledge than a potential hacker, or evil-cyber-overlord, or even a overly watchful government.

      When it comes to battling evil-doers I’ll take those over Republican budget slashing book banners any day of the week. I too would take a book any day of the week, just like I’d still love an old Land Cruiser whihc gets 2mpg. In the future neither are very practical.

      The dumbing down – well i disagree. People Are reading more than ever, even it is on a screen. It may not be setting down with a fine novel, but it’s a step up from vegging out to fox news.

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