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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, July 28, 2020

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

It was a dark and stormy night (but only in my mind). I was suddenly thirty years younger and working on a textbook project to be printed on demand from a PDF file for seventh grade reading, at the Catholic school where my wife chairs the English Department. The school needed the first batch of texts printed ASAP, and I am on call for whatever involves computers in our household. That explains why I was up until 5:30 am and then awake again three hours later. It made me think of my younger days, but only because of the strain of not being “younger” any more!

My private little war is emblematic of the enormous number of difficulties which afflict sound Catholic education today. In many subjects, the newer textbooks are offensive to faith or morals, but the better older materials are now so long out of print that it is difficult even to get enough used books to go around. In recent days, I’ve learned how to take old books apart so that the pages can be photocopied using an automatic document feeder with decent output quality. Most scanning projects involve photographic images; any effort to convert them to text using optical character recognition adds way too many errors, and so far too much labor, to the project.  ….

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