Times Are A-Changin'
No More Books?
Online readers comment on Lamar High's Library Ousts Books, Reopens as Coffee Shop," Hair Balls blog, by Margaret Downing, November 23:
I'm a little conflicted here: While it's sad to see the traditional library go, we do need to realize that it is a new age, and the Internet will actually give the students more access to information they need for research than the traditional library could. Whether the students use the Internet for that is another question. In my opinion, a hybrid between a traditional library and Internet cafe is the answer.
Shame on James McSwain: Coffee shop, good. Coffee shop at the expense of a library, bad. Coffee shop at the expense of a library at a high school, very bad.
Shawn K. Quinn
Trendsetter: What bothers me so much about this is that Lamar, considered one of the best public high schools in Houston, will no doubt set the trend for other schools, particularly those where the students can't afford the technology that might make books less necessary.
Library/cafe hybrid: Like Eric, I'm conflicted on this issue. I'm a former high school teacher and saw firsthand how difficult school libraries are to maintain — and how little use they get now that students are so accustomed to finding up-to-the-minute information online. I'm certainly not in favor of doing away with school libraries entirely — there's something to be said for physically seeing books and having a quiet place to study/read — but I do like the idea of the library/cafe hybrid.
Ruthie J M
An upgrade: During my four years at Lamar, I don't ever remember checking out and taking home a book from the understocked library. If there is a significant catalog of e-books available, and students can read checked-out books at home, this could be a big upgrade in research and educational value.
Thirty-five new laptops sounds like plenty for supplemental, on-premises use. Remember that any kid with an iPhone, iPod, Android, tablet, or laptop can access the e-books. A lot of kids have those devices, not just the rich ones.
Equal access? I don't understand why the shift to e-readers/Internet-based sources has to come at the expense of books. I am a Lamar alum, and unless the demographics of the student body have changed radically in the ten-plus years since I went there, there is a significant population of students who will not have e-readers and/or computers/Internet at home. It seems this new scheme will limit their ability to do work outside of the school.
And I won't even go into the wisdom of providing caffeine and empty calories for a bunch of teenagers! However, I do think the idea of a student-run/staffed enterprise at the school is interesting, given it is a magnet school for business.
Times are changing: I graduated high school in '99, and even then few were using actual bound books to complete schoolwork. Teachers put limits on how many electronic references we could use for research papers, because otherwise, that was all we'd use.
Times are changing, and books are being edged out. They take up gobs of space when they're not in use; they get mildewed and stinky in the Houston humidity, they're a huge natural resource suck (paper), and having all that paper around is a fire hazard. I'd love to donate all my books and pick up a shiny new e-reader, if only to regain some space in my home.
Ridiculous: I'm a librarian in a large Houston school district (not HISD). We circulate thousands of print books every month. Studies have shown that one of the keys to improving reading is access to books.
Most students do not have home Internet access or devices. While e-books are growing, there is still a need for print. Thirty-five laptops cannot serve the needs of a school this large. A hybrid coffee shop/library is fine, but getting rid of all print materials is ridiculous. Spend your money to buy the hottest, current, contemporary young adult fiction and they will come!
Access for all: In medicine and in education, access is key. Until one can be assured that every one of those 3,000-plus students has access to not only an e-reader but also all the free content that they would have otherwise had in the form of library books, this is a woefully misguided decision.
Online readers respond to Chances Bar Closing After Saturday Night," Rocks Off blog, by Craig Hlavaty, November 19:
Changing Montrose: Probably in ten years nobody will even remember that Montrose had gay bars. It's so awful watching place after place close.
No need for the nabe: So one gay bar closes, and gays and lesbians can go...anywhere in town they please, because they've become accepted into mainstream culture, as they should. A lot of places like Mary's, and now Chances, are more relics of times when gays and lesbians had to flock to gay bars because they didn't feel comfortable outing themselves in public.
A landmark that will never be forgotten: Memories that can never be erased. My car was never broken into. The employees were always friendly. The steaks were juicy. The music was awesome. I punched the punching bag, I played pool, I got to see some awesome art and even the L Word...I even got to play Wii with Dusty on a Wednesday afternoon on the big screen. I drank green beer once, and I even met the love of my life there. Thanks for the fun memories.
Sad but True
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.