Out with the books, in with the caffeine

| December 3, 2010

Recently, this article caught my eye on the education blog circuit:

Lamar High’s Library Ousts Books, Re-Opens as Coffee Shop

A Texas high school’s principal has had the books removed from the library in order to make room for a couch and coffee setup. Students may use the space to lounge and access the library’s electronic resources.

This renovation has been controversial within the school and community. The “library” doesn’t own many laptops for student use, and its hours are limited. It was easy for any student to check out a physical book and take it home, while the electronic resources do not cover all of the same titles and may not be as easily accessible to all. There are rumors that the school’s principal was just trying to do something modern and attention-grabbing, for political gain.

However, I think that more information is needed in order for a reader to fairly assess this coffee shop/high school library of the future. Were the books being housed in the library ever actually used with any frequency by the students? Were those physical offerings redundant with the books offered in readily accessible local public libraries? It’s at least possible that a more social and technology-oriented space adds more value to the school than the traditional library did.