Friday, October 30, 2009

Hey, at least they're saving trees!

It's not news that libraries are considering digital alternatives to print, but to replace an entire collection with Amazon's proprietary Kindle reader? Today? In the Fall of 2009? Is the future really here, or has Cushing Academy jumped the gun?

USA Today reports that the Massachusetts school began removing its print collection entirely last summer and replaced it with a fully digital collection accessible through Kindle readers and through databases on student laptops. A few books still remain, but those are also slated to be removed.

Format may be less important than content, and getting reliable resources into the hands of the patron is goal number one, but is putting faith in a proprietary system this early in a very competitive game really wise? It's a question for the accountants. Is it cheaper to upgrade this technology if and when it gets outpaced by its (possibly open source) competitors than it is to wait? And from a research standpoint, has content been recreated digitally, or has it simply been replaced by something more palatable to high schoolers?

Whether or not it helps the school's bottom line, it does show that libraries are willing to grow with the culture and embrace technologies that will expand the information and services they are able to offer. It's a bold step forward by a boarding school that, USA Today tells us, was the first in the US to admit both boys and girls.

No comments: