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Do libraries still need books? by Scott Phillips.

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1 Do libraries still need books? by Scott Phillips

2 Defining the Issue: Can you imagine a library without books? When most people think of libraries, they envision row after row of bookshelves filled with books. After all, can you have a bookstore without books to sell? But digital reading devices like the Kindle, the Nook, and the iPad are causing some people to wonder if librarians would be better off spending their money on digital copies of books instead of paper copies of books.

3 Source One: Upfront Magazine Do Libraries Still Need Books? - Pros Today's students, digital natives all, shouldn't miss out on the unique pleasure of getting lost in a physical book. Research shows that the brain functions differently when reading online versus reading a book, and different formats complement different learning styles. Books help develop longer attention spans, the ability to concentrate, and the skill of engaging with a complex issue or idea for an uninterrupted period of time. Librarians also encourage reading, which is crucial to student success. Focused, engaged reading is more likely to occur with printed books than with online material. Unlike an e-reader or a laptop, which may provide access to many books but is limited to a single user, a printed book is a relatively inexpensive information-delivery system that is not dependent on equipment, power, or bandwidth for its use. One of the beauties of libraries is that we keep up with new technologies, but we also hold on to the old things that work well. We don't have to choose between technology and printed books, and we shouldn't. An online library cannot replace the unique collection of resources built over a period of years to serve the specific needs of students, faculty, and the school's curriculum.

4 Source Two: NPR Do Libraries Still Need Books? - Pros Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced last week that 10 digital textbooks meet California state standards for math and science classes. The textbooks are free. That's a tempting price for school districts in the cash-strapped state. But critics worry that some schools don't have the technology needed to use the new books. GREENE: Somewhere down the line, there has to be someone paying for these though, right? I mean they can't be totally free. Dr. THOMAS: There's nothing for free. A number of these are books - were developed by foundations, which they have seen as their purpose in developing open content. And I might just say, the traditional textbook publishers have also been very active in this space. It's just that their materials are not free.

5 Source Three: PBS Do Libraries Still Need Books? - Pros "Books are excellent technology, and the idea that 'the book' needs to be reinvented is about as logical as assuming that the hammer, saw, or wheel needs to be reinvented," – Joe Murphy, a research librarian. "[One problem is] the fact that we're substituting an established analog technology for one that is at best only as good as the one it replaces," Carroll wrote. "What happens when the battery dies on your e-book reader or the software becomes corrupt? [Those aren't] concerns that the analog technology has." Having the e-books in a solid form allows the user to easily re-sell the used cartridges without the publisher having to worry about illegal duplication. The promise of digital books or e- books is that we can have all the books ever printed available on any device to read. While it's an idea that sounds good in theory, many of you were skeptical that the good old book really needs to be reinvented, scanned and put onto an electronic device. "Unless electronic versions can be used in the bathtub, places with no electricity and can be used by people without access to a computer or special reader -- NO!" Ensey wrote. "If books become the sole domain of those with technology, what will happen to those people in the world without access to the technology?"

6 Source One: Upfront Magazine Do Libraries Still Need Books? - Cons Traditional libraries must be reimagined to remain vital and better reflect the way students learn and conduct research today. That's why Cushing Academy decided last year to give away most of our 20,000 print books and transform our library into a digital learning center. A small collection of printed books no longer supports the type of research required by a 21st-century curriculum. We wanted to create a library that reflects and fosters the reality of how students do research—a library that goes beyond stacks and stacks of underutilized books. Cushing's library can now deliver thousands of Web-based electronic books and authoritative database content directly to our students' laptops. The library also encourages offline reading by providing immediate access to hundreds of thousands of downloadable electronic books delivered to our nearly 200 electronic readers. Our library is now the most used space on campus, with collaborative learning areas, screens for data feeds from research sites, and more reference and circulation stations for our librarians. It has become a hub where students and faculty gather, learn, and explore together.

7 Source Two: NPR Do Libraries Still Need Books? - Cons California is about to become the first state in the country to approve digital textbooks for high school students. The digital textbooks are free, open- source, downloadable - they're actually in PDF file - and printable materials that constitute a full course of study - in this case, high school math and science subjects. Governor Schwarzenegger very much recognizes that our society is increasingly digital and that kids these days are on their cell phones, they're on their computers. I think it's our responsibility as educators and as policymakers to ensure that our education keeps up with the changing needs of our students. Dr. GLEN THOMAS (Secretary of Education, California): I think it's worth noting that other countries - Turkey, India, South Korea, Singapore - have embraced more complex systems of digital education. So if we want our students to stay competitive, we have to ensure that our system supports digital education as well. An average high school textbook costs in excess of $100. So, you can compute - if you had a class of 35 students, then you can compute how much you would save based on how many teachers were trying out the digital textbook.

8 Source Three: PBS Do Libraries Still Need Books? - Cons "However, that doesn't make the paper book the best technology for every purpose, and there certainly are things currently published as books which shouldn't be...I'll say that almost every true reference book I've seen could be as good or better with a well designed digital surrogate. The same can be said (for library purposes) of journals, magazines, and newspapers, where searchability and storage are major issues.” The promise of digital books or e- books is that we can have all the books ever printed available on any device to read. While it's an idea that sounds good in theory, many of you were skeptical that the good old book really needs to be reinvented, scanned and put onto an electronic device.

9 My Opinion: Slide One If you would have asked me this question before Christmas, I would have thought it to be absurd. Of course, libraries need books. How can you have libraries without books? But after spending a month or so reading books on my new Kindle, a gift I received from my wife, I am beginning to change my mind. I can now actually envision the possibilities of the digital library. For starters, the technology behind devices like the Kindle and Nook has progressed to the point where the user feels more like they are reading a traditional book and less like they are surfing on the internet. The display screens use a “true ink” display technology that looks like a page from a paperback book and that easier on the eyes than traditional computer monitors. The devices are small in size and weigh about as much as a traditional paperback, although the memory allows for thousands of books to be stored on the one device. It is literally like having an entire library of books at your fingertips. When you consider that Amazon.com allows for users to download the first few chapters of a book for free as a trial sample to read before purchasing the book, it makes you wonder how many reluctant readers could be turned on to reading through these devices.

10 My Opinion: Slide Two Another strong consideration for converting from a traditional book system to a digital book system is that digital books are leading-edge technology. Several of the articles that I read mentioned that the use of digital books kept U.S. students on par with other leading countries around the world. Simply put, the technology allows students to use and become comfortable with the technology that today’s global workplace demands. As the leader of one school put it, the digitizing of the school’s library turned the library from a place seldom used by students to one of the most widely used places in the school—a place where students could gather learn and explore together. Critics might claim that digital readers are expensive. While it might be true that a Kindle costs much more than one book, it can be used again and again. Also, by purchasing in bulk, the individual unit cost could probably be under $100—the cost of one textbook. Think about how many textbooks could be downloaded onto it. Think about how many books could be downloaded. Besides, the Kindle has a “book borrowing” technology that allows users to borrow books from other users. Students could easily use this technology to “borrow” a digital copy of a book. If the student doesn’t turn it in, perhaps the librarian could simply disable it.

11 Sources: "The New York Times Upfront | The News Magazine for High School." Teaching Resources, Children's Book Recommendations, and Student Activities | Scholastic.com. Web. 27 Jan Sunday, Weekend Edition. "Digital Textbooks May Lighten Students' Backpacks : NPR." NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Web. 27 Jan Author, This. "MediaShift. Your Take Roundup::Books Don't Need Digital Reinvention, But... | PBS." PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Web. 27 Jan


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