There was a note of concern in her voice. “Do you think,” my wife Robin began, “that our rafters will hold the weight of your second floor office?” The look on her face registered serious concern. “If you keep buying books,” Robin continued, “I have my doubts.” I admit, with 4000 volumes in the collection, my library may literally weigh a ton.
In our more mobile society people are interested in something they can carry which weighs ounces, not pounds. So it is no surprise National Public Radio reported that digital book sales are up. Customers are buying more digital books than books in any other format. NPR’s “Morning Edition” commentator Nancy Pearl stated that the sales report spoke more about convenience than price. But Nancy Pearl, an author and librarian, is not happy about the rise in use of digital reading practices. Ms. Pearl said, [Quote] “Most of the things that we’ve done to make life more convenient for people has come at a price, whether its having face-to-face interactions with your bookseller or your librarian, or wandering into the store to browse.” [End-Quote]
Face-to-face connection to a book does matter. Researchers at the University of Tennessee gave disadvantaged students 12 books of their own choosing to take home at the end of the school year. The research continued for three successive years. The study found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students. The study illustrates the tremendous power of books. Research from 27 countries says the same thing: kids who grow up in a home with 500 books are better students.
Yes, the physical presence of books is important. But there’s more. It seems that the building of a physical library impacts the view children have of themselves. Children who have books in their possession now see themselves as readers, as members of a different group. Engaged in reading, young people see the world in a different way. Students who read know they have something to learn outside their own experience. Reading explains that the person who wrote a book has some type of authority over the information they write. So, respect for an author’s wisdom is shown by learners reading classic works of literature. It is true that my office bears a great weight of books; but those books bear the great weight of learning. For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found.
Friends hope Mark never moves again–those book boxes are heavy. Mark’s two libraries can be found in Indianapolis where he teaches at Crossroads Bible College. To air on Moody Radio, summer, 2011.
 28 January 11, National Public Radio, Renee Montagne and Wendy Kaufman reporting. http://www.npr.org/2011/01/28/133293543/Amazon-Reports-Profit-Margins-Slid