Library at Maine Criminal Justice Academy closed due to disuse

Posted Aug. 04, 2012, at 9:18 a.m.
The library at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy has closed due to advances in technology, officials there said.
Maine Criminal Justice Academy
The library at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy has closed due to advances in technology, officials there said.

Technology has struck again.

This time it was at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro, where the school library’s dusty bound volumes were replaced by online data.

School Director John B. Rogers said Friday that the bulk of the library’s books were shipped to the Maine Library Association and stacks of professional magazines recycled.

In their place is a high definition LCD projector showing on a 12-foot-wide screen hooked up to a Blue-Ray DVD player topped off with a complete surround-sound system. Students may hook up their favorite video games or pop in a movie to watch, a message on the school’s website boasts.

The conversion of the library to a student lounge seemed a natural progression, Rogers said.

The books were “very, very old,” he said.

Students had used the library in past decades for research and to work on lesson plans for the curriculum, Rogers said. “Now, as you know, most of the research is done online. So, it really wasn’t used at all.”

The room was converted to a student lounge and a nonprofit group that benefits students equipped the room with electronics aimed at entertainment, not scholarship.

Students who stay overnight at the school now have some place to relax and have fun.

Meanwhile, the main building on campus already had been equipped with wireless access to the Internet, enabling students to go online with their laptops in the classrooms and virtually any other room in that building. They could conduct research and not be confined to a single room like the former library, Rogers said.

Moreover, the position of full-time librarian was converted about three years ago to a different job at the school, saving the state money, Rogers said.

The digital technology know-how and skills of entry-levels students at the academy today is “light years” ahead of his generation dating back to the 1970s, Rogers said.

“Some of these young folks that come here to train to be an officer or a corrections officer have a tremendous amount of research knowledge going into this,” he said. “And I think as fast as it is here today, it will change to something different tomorrow. And it will probably be even more light years ahead of what’s here today.”

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