Since the Cushing Academy has converted its library into a completely digital format and it looks as though this type of library may become part of what the future looks like, one must consider: What does it mean to be a librarian? Gone are the days of the strict, hair pulled back, shhing stereotyped librarian peering down at you over her horn rimmed glasses as she tries to culture you and shove books into your pathetically uneducated hands. Here now is the library full of television screens and interactive search centers. Here now are the digital formats that never have that old book smell. Here now are the librarians that can no longer be only cultured but must also be techy. Here now is the potential for us library go-ers to find what we need without ever having to ask the librarian where the shelf on American Women Poetry between 1900-1910 is hidden. The answers are all at our finger tips! With keyboards and touch screens and endless possibilities! Here now is the future of the bookless library.
Cushing transformed their library into a virtual library in a bold step to modernize and prepare for the 21st century. The Boston Globe wrote an article describing the transformation. There are of course problems associated with the change and elements that will hold back a smooth transistion. But what good idea didn’t have problems? Some of the comments in relation to the article are concerns about the inevitablity of outdated technology and the potential loss of information on that technology. But haven’t we been able to move along as the technology also zooms ahead? (Have we survived the extinction of floppy disks?)
BU conferenced with the previous headmaster of the Boston University Academy, James Tracy. Tracy is now the headmaster of Cushing Academy and a strong supporter of the new digital library format. The conference was hosted by Boston University’s College of Arts and Science Core Curriculum administrator, David Eckle.
I think that we can and should move foreward with the test of the bookless library. We have overcome bigger challenges before. But can we adjust to the loss of the great figure of the Librarian? Our children may never know her characteristic bookiness.