Monday, April 19, 2010

Libarary Gets Rid of Books. What's Next? Using Them as Kindling?

This morning I was sitting at my desk taking attendance, doing my morning paperwork while my class watched Channel One, when all of a sudden, a story came on that immediately caught my attention. Have any of you heard about the high school in Massachusetts that's getting rid of all the books in their library?

I am completely and utterly appalled. Now, I don't want you to think that I am not for promoting new technologies, because I am one of the teachers at my school who embraces technology and am always finding new ways to use it in my classroom. But the idea of getting rid of books because the students don't use them, is not only misguided, it's STUPIDITY!

The headmaster's logic for getting rid of the books is that the students don't use them and, in their stead, are finding unreliable sources on Google. By giving them e-readers and access to peer-review journal databases, he seems to think that students will use more reliable sources in their research.

My contention with this idea is that he assumes that students aren't looking at books because they're "outdated" and "archaic" when, in reality, if you have a knowledgeable teacher who requires the use of book sources, and who is willing to help students find books, and gives them time in class to look, then THEY WILL USE THEM!!!!!

I have done several projects in my English and social studies classes this year and make sure I take my students through the steps of how to find reliable books, review how to use the Dewey decimal system, and then model for them how to find information from that book. Because I have done this prep-work, I find students continually carrying books around that relate to their projects.

Saying that students aren't using books is a cop out. Teachers aren't modeling for their students HOW TO USE THEM. Giving students e-readers takes away the joy of perusing through a stack of books, and also reduces your ability to find free books to borrow.

I can't think of a more misguided use of new technology than to get rid of the books in a library. Books are still relevant. And given the fact that there is not an abundance of e-books to "check-out", this seems like a very expensive endeavor. Even without the expense, whatever happened to the joy of holding a book between your hands and experiencing the new worlds between those pages? I pray with all my might that other schools don't follow this trend.


  1. I personally learn less when trying to read an ebook and if I have the option I do try to print them out. I buy a lot of homeschool ebooks for geography and I always print the whole thing and decided what I'm gonig to us later.

    Books are relevant but I wonder if the digital age and the discard of things like libraries hurts us more than anything. The other day I was at the library when a local kid asked me what it meant when it said his book on Ireland was in 976.4H. He had no idea how to find this book at all and I was horrified. I had to show him where it was. I don't is great but I don't think we should take the basic library skills away from kids either.

  2. I agree Kelley. I think in a few years this principal is going to be banging his head against the wall, wondering what ever possessed him to make such a stupid move, at least I hope he does.

    I don't see how he can think that books aren't relevant anymore. One look at the parking lot at the Canton Public Library - that is full just about everyday, and it is clear that people are still using books!