RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A debate is heating up in New England about a small private school and its answer for a deteriorating library and the ever-increasing cost of books. It has gone to Kindles.
Kindle is a device that was developed by Amazon.com to read electronic books. It was introduced in 2007 and now has about 366,000 titles.
Now why the flap and what are the potential lessons? The debate is in part paper versus screen; however, any look at a college campus or work place quickly reflects that the page has been replaced by pixels.
Cushing Academy had found that its 20,000-book collection had fewer than 30 used on some days. Its decision was to go digital.
As with the Henrico controversy when it went exclusively with Apple, the first criticism was that it was proprietary. The schools breadth of knowledge was limited to the editorial decisions of Amazon.com.
This concern came to life last summer when Amazon.com decided to remove Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell. A student in Michigan sued and last month the titles were restored and $150,000 was paid to the plaintiffs.
And as for the lessons, the digital world is not coming; it is here. When I can sit on a beach or in an airport and read the classics that were downloaded for $.99 to my iPhone or read a Grisham or Baldacci novel downloaded on my free Kindle "ap," it is foolish not to use it in schools.
As for proprietary interests and any good library, students must have access to a broad range of appropriate information.
(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.