October 27, 2009
Private School Replaces 20,000 Volume Collection With 65 Kindles
Well, we knew a story like this was coming sooner than later, and here it is. USA Today is reporting on the first school, public or private, to replace its library collection (about 20,000 volumes) with databases and 65 circulating Kindles. The circulation desk now is a coffee bar with a $12,000 espresso machine, which inspires the student nickname "12k Cafe" for the place. Welcome to the library at Cushing Academy in New England.
The school sees value in expanding the collection by replacing print with a larger electronic collection for less money. Headmaster Jim Tracy says he has hired more librarians to help students navigate the wider electronic offerings. The new library seems to sit fine with students who are "digital natives," as they say at Harvard. The criticisms are plenty, but mostly revolve around removing print in favor of a purely electronic library collection rather than mixing the two. Then there is the question of relying on Amazon as an exclusive vendor, though that will likely change as Google, Barnes & Noble and the rest get their offerings together. The one point that stood out for me was what happens when technology improvements and market conditions make the current hardware and data obsolescent? I suppose that this is going to require careful management to make sure the program goes forward. We're used to the replace and update cycles in academic and corporate environments, so there is experience here. Can it be applied to what amounts to a curated electronic collection that completely replaces print? It's another argument for the librarian as technologist instead of ceding that responsibility to IT.
The USA Today story is here. [MG]
My school is currently in the process of considering a similar proposal, being a private school funding is not much of an issue but the budget for the transition is far exceeded by the head's love of all things Apple. Understandably, an iPad will double the price of the proposed plans and constrict the possibility of management. As much as I'd love hundreds of students walking around with iPads, the kindle is definitely the way forward for electronic education.
Posted by: Private Boarding School | Mar 31, 2010 3:56:09 AM