So, what to do on the fourth snow day this week… while reading the NY Times I came across this opinion piece on whether libraries need books. It is a look from five different perspectives at the issues brought up by Cushing Academy’s decision to give away most of the books in it’s library and create a digital learning center. The NY Times piece even mentions Syracuse University Library Dean Thorin’s presentation at a recent conference. I’m not sure what I think at this point in time about giving away the books, since so much of our history is not just the words contained in books but in the actual publications themselves.
Case in point – how many books today are printed on old fashioned printing presses? How about newspapers? These have gone digital, but being able to see the difference between how things looked and felt in the past and how they are produced now can teach a student or teacher as much as the content. As a teacher, I understand why we must prepare our students for the future, but I worry about access and letting the past go too. One of the five opinions in the NY Times piece reminds us that the automobile did not end the use of trains and that it may have been foolish to destroy many of the tracks that used to criss-cross this nation, as we now seek to expand train travel again.