So in the rush to connect the world, schools have been spending millions of dollars on new computers, while library budgets languish in the $10-15 000 range. Of that, much is spent on acquiring licenses for software and systems to run on those new computers. What does this mean? Schools without books. I know something about this. While at highschool, our library ‘got connected’. I spent much time in there, screwing around on the various systems. I think I was probably one of the first students in my school to write a paper where all my references were on-line. However, our school had a small, but fantastically stocked library. Ms. Beck, the librarian had a love for books that went beyond the normal. And so we also had books. As they added more computer connections though, she spent more money on books on how to use the computers. Remember those ‘Internet Directory’ books? I’m sure there were a dozen of those. As were books on typing, searching, how to use Mosaic, etc. These how-to books started took up 2 shelves by the time I graduated in 1995. Now, I expect that with each passing generation of students, they will arrive at high school increasingly adept at making proper use of the web. But these students should also have access to paper books. Having a copy (with notes) of The Divine Comedy
around to reference was great, not to mention hordes of reference-like books (although I personally could have done without the 3 bazillion encyclopaedias, I’m sure others were appreciative).
So, if you’re thinking about places to donate this season, why not donate to your local library? Education is very important, and for many, a library is the only place to get access to books to read. You can donate money, books, time, etc.