Zachary Bos on Robert Bringhurst

The Administrative Coordinator of the Core, Zachary Bos, recently wrote a letter to the Boston Finneganers regarding Robert Bringhurst’s books:

Dear Friends, and members of the Boston Finneganers:

I have a great deal of appreciation for Robert Bringhurst’s books — his interest and valuation of languages, literatures, and the technical means these comes to us; his sense of human and imaginative ecology, and of the natural world we humans find ourselves in — and I’m sure I’ve shared some of those books with some of you. I’m writing now to share with you this pamphlet (attached) of a talk he gave a few years ago at RIT, at a symposium on The Future of Reading.

Relatedly, you might enjoy watching this video of Christopher Ricks speaking at a symposium on The Future of the Book held here at BU a few years ago, at His remarks begin at 67:10; they are largely addressed to comments made by an earlier speaker at the same event, James Tracy of Cushing Academy.

Tracy is the headmaster who supervised the replacement of many thousands of print books in his institution’s library with a handful of e-reader devices. He explains part of the ambition of this change, in response to a question from the audience: “I don’t think that most students…. in five or ten years are going to be using printed books, for most of their research projects […] In a much larger sense, they’re going to come [to college] far more adept than your other students [whose experience is with print books] at understanding the world that they’re engaged in. I think that will make them extraordinarily interesting students. They’ll have interacted on a monthly basis with Nobel Prize winners and Pulitzer winners and others that we bring to Cushing as part of this program [of updating the media resources supporting the education provided by Cushing]. I think they’ll be some of your most innovative thinkers who can use your electronic technology adeptly.” Now, this is an attitude that simultaneously flatters and condescends to students. In the end, it’s the students that are hoodwinked. Pardon me for being terrifically bored by the prospect of working with a student who has hobnobbed with a  laureate but not traveled widely in books.

See also:
– Boston Globe coverage, “Welcome to the library. Say goodbye to the books.” (
– A debate in the opinion pages of The New York Times, “Do School Libraries Need Books?” (
– NPR, “Digital School Library Leaves Book Stacks Behind” (
– Libraries Are Obsolete: An Oxford-Style Debate sponsored by Harvard Library Strategic Conversations (
– Nicholas Carr on “Mr. Tracy’s library” (

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