Bookless

I’ve avoided talking about the Cushing Academy bookless library bruhaha thus far.  Mostly this is because there is really nothing that hasn’t been said elsewhere.  But also because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the situation.  The mere thought of a bookless library makes me shudder, but on the other hand libraries really do need to start thinking a bit radically and this certainly qualifies as that.

But now my local paper has gotten into the act, and has associated my library (as well as the nearby Lenox Library) and our budget difficulties with Cushing.  However, Cushing’s decission to turn their library into a techie information center doesn’t exactly speak ill of their budget.  What it does say is the Academy felt the books were being underutilized and that they were desperate to get students in the door.

Now this is a plan that just reeks of desperation.  The original globe article indicates that the library’s books were not circulating (albeit with fairly scant supporting evidence).  But let’s be generous and take this statement at face value.  If the academy is pumping thousands of dollars into a book collection that isn’t justifying that expense, then it’s not too hard to see how they could reach the conclusion that the books should go.  

This is sad, and horrifying, and despicable, but all too understandable.  I’m really hoping that history will eventually show Cushing to have been far too short sighted, but that may not be the case.  And I’ll be really surprised if another library doesn’t follow their example.

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2 Comments on “Bookless”

  1. wolfshowl Says:

    It seems to me an akin scenario is “healthy food isn’t selling, so we’ll get rid of all of it and only stock ramen and artery-clogging things.”

    It seems to me that the problem is more of a cultural one of kids not being raised to understand and value libraries. I also think that part of a schools’ job is to fill that gap if parents haven’t already established library = fun place.

    People don’t always want what’s best for them, which is where education and appealing programs come in. (Something I know you know a lot about Mr. Gaming Librarian).

  2. geekylibrarian Says:

    I love the example, although does that imply that we could possibly survive by turning libraries into a luxury item?

    On a more serious note, there’s definitely a certain amount of disinterest the schools have shown towards libraries in recent years. We’ve been trying to reach out to our local schools, but haven’t had a lot of success outside a few classes. I sort of wonder if its partly an MCAS thing, self-guided learning and all that isn’t exactly teaching the test.

    As for programs, they can definitely get people in the building, and from my experience create bonds with the staff if not with the library. But sadly that doesn’t always translate to the sorts of statistics that matter to some (Cushing seemed solely focused on the circ counts after all).


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