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? What are
students in those "learning commons" being taught that is qualitatively better
than what they learned in traditional libraries?
I think the absence of books confirms the disposition to regard them as
irrelevant. Many entering students come from nearly book-free homes. Many have
not read a single book all the way through; they are instead trained to surf and
skim. Teachers increasingly find it difficult to get students to consult printed
materials, and yet we are making those materials even harder to obtain. Online
journal articles are suitable for searching and extraction, but how conducive is
a computer for reading a novel?
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
From the Chronicle of Higher Education: