Cushing Academy’s library…

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Digital shift

Going (almost) bookless has made Cushing Academy’s library a popular spot

Comfortable chairs — but very few books — populate the  Cushing Academy library these days. James Tracy (standing center), the  headmaster who instituted the change, says he has gone “from pariah to  prophet.’’
Comfortable chairs — but very few books — populate the Cushing Academy library these days. James Tracy (standing center), the headmaster who instituted the change, says he has gone “from pariah to prophet.’’ (Mark Wilson for The Boston Globe)
By Sam Allis Globe Staff / November 6, 2010

ASHBURNHAM — Until 2009, the library at Cushing Academy, a small, co-ed private boarding school, looked like any other school library: a crowded space packed with dark canyons of books. It was, says headmaster James Tracy, the least used building on campus. Then, a little over a year ago, Cushing got rid of almost all of its 20,000 books in a radical shift to create a digital library. The goal was to liberate students from stacks full of outdated reference material and mold them into online artistes adept at pursuing research through mastery of databases — information literacy, in short. To some, the change was a smart step into the digital reality of the 21st century. Others were appalled.

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