Cushing Academy administrators, a prep school near Boston, took a courageous decision and decided that the 144 year old school, at this point of time, doesn’t really need a library. Instead, they will buy 18 e-readers to replace the 20,000 books they currently have at school.
I personally believe that such a move is a reasonable consequence of where the world is heading to today. It is as simple as this: We no longer need libraries! This is something that may be hard for us to admit as libraries have always been respected for being the place to save and share humanity’s heritage of information. Us, human beings, have utmost respect to knowledge, and to places that we perceive to be its home. But then again, we have reached a point of time where our knowledge moved from library books to online servers. The Internet took us by storm, and changed the way we consume information.
Saving Heritage vs Being Practical
There is a huge emotional, cultural and moral heritage attached to libraries. Although, today, we all know that the Internet is the place where we have a huge chunk of the history of human knowledge, we still find it hard to pass the torch. Libraries, by history and by name, still dominate our perception of being the home of knowledge. It is like the big elephant in the class that everyone refuses to see. It requires some courageous people – like the Cushing Academy administrators – to come up and say: “Hey! Wake up! Why should we keep on maintaining an old system where a new and more efficient one already exists?” It is not easy to break social norms especially when it has such big moral burden, but what is right is right, we have to move on.
Are books obsolete?
While e-books sound like the reasonable next step for the book publishing industry, it still needs to gain popularity and mainstream adoption before we declare the death of paper books. I, again, still favor buying a full weighted, colorful book rather than having a soft copy on my e-reader. Be it for habitual, emotional or any other preference, the hard copy of a book is still my way to go. But on the other hand, I can see that e-books are a much better option in terms of storage. I mean why keep a large space occupied in your home for books when you can have them all on your e-reader? It is so rare for me to go back to an old book of mine and read it again, and it is much more easier for me to just grab my e-reader and look up the information I am looking for. Not to mention that e-books are currently much cheaper!
Will others follow?
I really wonder how long will it take for other schools, governmental institutes, home owners, …etc to realize that they no longer need their libraries. There will be a good amount of spared space that will be left to each entity to innovate about the best way to use it. “I need to go to the library” will be a sentence from the past. Current paper books do indeed belong to museums.
What do you think of Cushing Academy’s move? Is it a bit early to make this shift? Do you think others will follow? Let us know your opinion in the comments section.