A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

No School Librarians AND Bookless Libraries?? Wow. . .

I've been told that the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District plans to run our school libraries along the lines of the Raritan High School media center in Hazlet. As I understand it, Raritan got rid of all of its printed media -- books, magazines, etc. And since there is nothing to check out, the administration felt there was no need for a librarian. The kids use a bank of computers to conduct database searches and are supervised by teachers on their planning periods.

Syracuse University suggests that bookless libraries are becoming all the rage as the technology of the book is being replaced by the computer. And the futurist Thomas Frey has all sorts of thoughts about how the future of books is limited. But in an NPR piece called If a Library is Bookless, What's in It?, the director of access and technology services for the Denver Public Library System says that books are used regularly by her library patrons as the library adopts new technology. And the director of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, also interviewed by NPR, says that his new modern library had 100,000 visitors in its first three months alone, adding that most checked out printed media as they took advantage of the nifty cultural environment.

As for my opinion on all of this: I just finished a master's thesis last spring at a college with a fancy library and my thesis still required extensive library research using actual books, so I'm not at all convinced that libraries are ready to become bookless. I feel it is an absurd notion to leave students without a school librarian. Teachers on their planning periods are certainly no substitute for a professional research specialist. The idea that librarians only manage book collections and can therefore be disposed of is ridiculous. And, finally, the person who was making our public library into a cultural mecca is gone. Just check out the library's empty calendar for June for a taste of what's to come.


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