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Libraries for Coffee Shops?

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MediaBistro picked up an interesting article in The Chronicle of Higher Education that highlights the shocking disappearance of books from college libraries. Thomas H. Benton (a psuedonym of a professor at a Midwestern liberal arts college) writes “What does it mean when the University of Texas at Austin removes nearly all of the books from its undergraduate library to make room for coffee bars, computer terminals, and lounge chairs?”

It seems that more and more often, college students do their research on computers, on the internet, and when they do need an actual text, they place an order and a library gofer brings it to them, a development that Benton suspects “that retrieval of books in the context of food service and roving helpers inculcates in students a disturbing combination of passivity and entitlement, as if they are diners in a fancy restaurant rather than students doing their homework. ”

Benton makes a powerful argument for books, for tangible pieces of paper, and perhaps most persuasive of all, he writes “I wrote this column on a computer in a room filled with books. In five years I will have a new computer on which most of my old software and storage media will not run. The books will still be here, and my children will be able to read them. And so will their children.”

Read Benton’s full article here.