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New England Prep School Tosses it Library Collection

Story in School Library Journal

Cushing Academy, the nation’s oldest co-ed boarding school, hopes to be a model for 21-century learning by getting rid of its entire library print collection.

The 144-year-old school, located near Boston in Ashburnham, MA, is giving away or tossing its 20,000 book collection for 18 digital readers, enhanced electronic databases, flat-screen TVs, and laptop-equipped study cubicles—at a cost of about $500,000.

Cushing headmaster James Tracy explained that the library is the "nicest space on campus" and that bookshelves wasted precious space that could be put to better use. The library will be transformed into an interactive learning center, faculty lounge, with a $50,000 cyber café and $12,000 cappuccino machine.

"Students never open a book in the library," Tracy told School Library Journal, pointing to an in-house study that shows an average of 48 books in circulation on any given day, 30 of which are juvenile books checked out by the children of faculty members.

Full article.


  1. I understand that there are many emotions attached to this issue, and I'm not stating that I agree with the decision. However, it is striking to me how many of the reader comments are to the effect of how many e-books can you take to the beach, to your bathtub, etc. I could comment on the flip side how many paper books could you fit in your front pocket on a device the size of a Zippo lighter? I have severe myopia, but I have no problems at all reading on my smart phone, in fact the contrast and back lighting makes it much easier for me to read, especially in the less than optimum light. I don't think that we should hold onto any particular paper book solely based upon emotional attachment(especially in an academic library) but instead for their content and usefulness. If we base our arguments for retaining books solely on their perceived emotional value to us (thereby implying their value to others) we are not going to be very successful in convincing our administrations, city councils, etc. of their tangible worthiness.


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