My friend sent me this article about a Houston high school that changed its library into a student-run coffee shop. The print books were removed and replaced with ebooks, 35 laptops, and the coffee shop.
Of course, I'm appalled that there are no more print books. I seriously doubt they have e-manga for students to read. Maybe some e-YA fiction, but I'm not sure. I think ebooks actually make a lot of sense for research, but I'm not sure we're at a point where we can provide all pleasure reading in electronic format. I know my library isn't anywhere near that point, even if we bought tons of ebook readers to circulate. Certainly without that, very few students would be accessing ebooks for pleasure through the library. Yeah, I have a few who do (either through the library or on their own), but not many. I also think about a lot of our really cool books that circulate that aren't available in electronic format. It makes my librarian heart ache to think that these books aren't/wouldn't be available to students. We're also fooling ourselves if we think there is anything resembling equitable computer/internet access for students.
On the other hand, I think a lot about this coffee shop project is cool. It probably will bring in students who wouldn't use a "library." If this is the "library," then it could change the meaning (possibly in a positive way) of making "lifelong library users." If students do access ebooks and databases from laptops, it could help them think of doing the same later in life (or even now) when they're at, say, Starbucks. I wouldn't mind that at all. (Of course, if they go to a traditional library, they'll have to figure out things like navigating the catalog and using print books.) Lamar High School is a HISD magnet program for business, so having students run the coffee shop seems like a great idea. It will probably give them a lot of ownership and they'll probably have great ideas for what to do with it.
I don't know if this is a great reconceptualization of "the library" that will help it to survive and thrive or a sign that the library isn't valued and is on its way to obsolescence.
Article from The Houston Press here