All Digital Everything: NY School Trades In Books Digital Library

Photo: Matthew Brown, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News

Schools books are heavy and expensive. Imagine walking to and from school everyday with 35 pounds of books on your back. It’s not a pleasant experience for kids. But what if a school goes all digital? No more books, no more school supplies and no more back injuries. Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y has decided to take the load off their students back and their families pockets by going digital.

Stepinac is one of the first high schools in the country to get rid of  their textbooks and replace them with a digital library. Students will now access all of their text books from their tablets or laptops.

“No one else in the country has this,”  Lisa Alfasi, an account manager at Pearson, a tech/educational company told USA Today.

From USA Today:

Indeed, Dennis Lauro, executive director of the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center, which provides technical support to public schools in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties in New York, said that neither he nor his colleagues across the state were aware of a similar digital effort in a public school setting.

“This is the wave of the future,” Lauro said. “I’m not surprised that a private school would beat the public schools to it. They have the ability to just do it. There is so much politics involved in the public schools when it comes to a move like that, needing approval from boards and committees. There will be a lot of interest in what Stepinac is doing.”

For the Rev. Tom Collins, Stepinac’s president, the commitment to digital source material was not a difficult a decision. For one thing, student access to the library may actually be cheaper, given the economics of private schools.

In the past, students’ families had to spend up to $700 a year on textbooks. This year — after the one-time purchase of a tablet or laptop — families have to pay $150 for access to the digital library.

Although this a program happening at a private Catholic school, what happens when a parent can’t afford a laptop or tablet for their child? Imagine having more than one child in a school and having to buy multiple laptops or tablets, that may cost more than the $700 in textbooks.


What do you think about this program? Would you rather textbooks or the access to a digital library in schools?

  • Lisa

    Actually I know a lot of catholic schools in the DMV have started doing this.My daughter’s school had a pilot program with the freshman this yeay and the entire school is supposed to start next year.My daughter is actually really mad about this because her and her friends say they prefer a physical book that you can write in and highlight. And I definitely do not want to pay $300 for a damn ipad when I could buy books and get all my money back at the end of the year when I sell them back.

  • Me

    She could always print out the pages she needs at a library, Kinko’s, or at home and write on those (or write directly in the device). Plus a lot of colleges use digital media, too. So that $300 could stretch a long way beyond grade school. And if she already has a laptop, you wouldn’t have to spend the $300 at all.

  • geenababe

    I’m not surprise by this. They were talking about doing this when I was in high school. I wish more colleges would take this on because college textbooks can be real heavy if you don’t have a car. Then selling them back is such a rip off at the end of the year (that’s if you can’t rent the book your looking for). College is a business that makes money anyway they can.

  • Kaeli

    I don’t think this format works well for reference or in a school setting. It isn’t as easy to refer back to pages. For example, if the homework is on one page and you want to look at something from the chapter you can’t do it as easily as with an actual book. Tablets are great for when you have to read in a regular linear but when you are jumping back and forth between a book it isn’t as easy. Do to issues of access it will be many years before this is the norm.

  • Crys F&WM Earrings

    What happens when a kid loses the tablet/laptop? Or its gets stolen?

  • Knotty Natural

    RE: College is a business that makes money anyway they can.

    Yep! Making copies of text books never felt so good! Though it takes time and money, it’s still less expensive than real books.

  • Deal-n-Truth

    My child’s school went digital seven years ago.

  • Deal-n-Truth

    My child’s school went digital seven years ago and all the parents had to pay an initial fee and sign a contract in the invent the laptop was stolen or destroyed.

  • Sandy248

    And going digital will help eliminate the need for kids to carry around those large backpacks. Sometimes I wonder if the kids wind up with back problems because of those oversized backpacks.

  • Pepper

    Horrible idea! There’s nothing like holding a book in your hand. All progress isn’t good

  • K

    I would like to tell you that i am in graduate school and my school offers the digital version of our textbooks but let me tell you they are just as expensive. I paid $170 and $126 for digital versions of my books for this semester which WERE THE CHEAPEST OPTIONS. If i had gone traditional they were even more expensive and what sucks, though selling back at the end of the year was a huge rip off in my undergraduate days id certainly take the $30 or $40 id get back on these books in traditional format than the $0 ill be getting back at the end of this semester on a digital format. see college is going to make money no matter the format …in my case even more with digital because they dont have to pay anything back

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