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Shift toward technology draws mixed reactions at Lancaster High

It is becoming more and more common to hear that technology is taking over and replacing "old-school" ways – in one case, it might be replacing a library full of actual books.

The Lancaster High School Media Center has to replace the majority of its book collection with newer, more-updated technology like Nooks and Kindles.

Cesar Marchioli, the high school’s principal, has a vision for a more modern setting in the library.

"We want a digital research place full of Chromebooks and iPads," he said.

Six blueprints of what the future Media Center might look like were presented during a meeting with Marchioli and designers last October. According to these layouts, there will be different areas separated by glass walls for a more 21st century look. Ideas for the purposes of these rooms include meeting and conference spaces, tablet and Nook reading stations, TV/projection screens for presentations, and even a version of a "Genius Bar."

Some faculty members have different points of view about tools for students’ education.

Kimberly Metzgar began her "paperless classroom" last year with her ELA students. She explains on the school webpage that "technology integration allows students and teachers to have cloud-based classrooms."

Other teachers who still prefer more traditional teaching and learning methods are having a hard time adjusting to future plans.

One teacher said she was upset to be told by library staff that they were unable to order new books because they are trying to have no more than one hard copy of any fiction book.

Marchioli says he understands both sides.

"We are looking to have a lot of genres and availability offered to students," he said. "We will still have all of the same books, just digitally. Although we are moving toward digital, I don’t think it will ever replace the hardcover book. We always encourage reading, so we will encourage it in whatever way we can."

Although the updates in the library are encouraged by administration and many other faculty members, is it really what students want?

An informal poll was conducted at the high school in February. Students were asked which they prefer: print books, e-books, or audio books. Out of the 78 students who participated in the poll, 68 percent said that they prefer print books.

How will it be decided which books will remain and which will be removed?

In order for these books to be considered discardable, they must be declared obsolete. The definition of obsolete is "no longer produced or used; out of date."

Yet the most recent book disposed of was acquired just last year.

One student was confused by this process. "When I go into the library, I look around and see carts of books to be discarded, but a lot of them look brand new."

Although the final approval to discard equipment and property is up to the Board of Education, the team, made up of seven members, never actually sees the physical condition or data of circulation of these books. The list asking for approval that is sent to the board only includes the book price, date acquired, and year published.

Once the books are approved to be discarded, they are recycled by the district.

With changing times comes a change of tradition.

Incoming students may be surprised, and, according to the poll results, maybe even disappointed, to see a library full of technology instead of hardcover and paperback books.

Peyton McConville is a 2017 graduate of Lancaster High School.


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