The previously dormant OLPC Library newsgroup, a forum to discuss "content collections for OLPCs, both software and booklike" came alive recently with emails by past and present librarians, looking for the content organization of the OLPC XO.
The first email was from Jim Pace, a former librarian, who shared his hope, one we can all ascribe to:
Years ago I thought E-books would take off and revolutionize the dissemination of information, especially with the development of E-paper at Zerox PARC. But I was wrong. Perhaps this laptop project will do what E-Books did not: Bring the world's collected knowledge to a significant portion of the world's population. A public library in every citizen's pocket.And such a noble goal is also in the minds of One Laptop Per Child. Michael Burns' dream, for the $208 or $972 dollar laptop is that each Children's Machine XO will be a Library of Alexandria. Next, Samuel (SJ) Klein, OLPC Manager of Content, shared his own dream, one that's rather limiting:
A question for the list: if you could only choose ten books or collections to share with a significant portion of the world's population, what would they be?Ten books? Only ten books for the 6 to 16 set? The limitation so stumped me, I asked David Rothman of Teleread to pose this question to his learned readership, international book experts who might give a better cross-representation than I.
Looking over his readership's answers, I see they are just as stumped as I, and David is right, 10 books is a librarian's nightmare. How can 10 books maintain attention over such an age & reading skill span?
From 6 year olds just learning how to read and enthralled by Green Eggs and Ham, to 16 year olds more engaged by Lord of the Flies. And how can any 10 books represent the worldwide breath of literature, Argentinean to Zambian, not just a Westernized sample set?
That leads me to believe that 10 books cannot be the limit, cannot be the full OLPC Library of Alexandria dream.
So in the spirit of the holiday season, and with the noble goals of One Laptop Per Child in mind, what would be your dream XO-included e-book reading list? Be it 10, 100, or 1000 books long.