Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smart Libraries

I came across this video from Library Ireland Week.

Library Ireland Week

It got me thinking about today's libraries. Our school and community libraries are really in a state of transition. They want kids and adults alike to continue their love of reading yet what reading looks like is really changing. As reading becomes increasingly digital, how do libraries (or media centers, if you prefer) provide literature, research resources, and etc... in a format that people want? Do we still need brick buildings to provide them. Many libraries have robust websites for reserving books, doing research, downloading ebooks, etc..., but at what point, if ever, do we cease to need a place to go.

I know,  I can hear many people arguing that the library is also a community space and we need to bring people together. When I visit the library (Yes, I go often!), I often see tutoring, meetings, collaborating, sharing, and librarians helping people. I love the collaborative spaces that libraries provide and would hate to see this disappear. But as someone who increasingly reads electronically, what is the value of large spaces that provide books? Will these spaces transition to smaller meeting spaces that facilitate learning and research? How can we support our libraries in making this transition?

I know that my kids love going to both the school and community library. There is an excitement around being surrounded by learning. Some might argue it is about being surrounded by books. I don't know the answer, but I suspect that this is not the case. I think it is much broader than that. I think they are excited about being surrounded by information, in whatever format it takes. How great that all people, no matter what their economic background, have the opportunity to be surrounded by knowledge. That they can reach out and grab it and take it home with them.

I would love to hear from others about what libraries need to do, if anything, to help with this transition to a more digital society.

2 comments:

  1. This is my concern with the digital age. On the positive: The convenience of technology allows more people to have access to information, no matter their economic background. But I think that along with this advancement, we are trading away something precious and needed. The comfort of community when being read a book. The tangible closeness one gets from paper instead of digital.

    I hope it will become an age of blending the two. The joining of the printed word to the digital through interactive stories, such as what are offered through sites as http://www.MrsP.com.

    It is hard to say what will happen in the future. I am part of the old school, one that enjoyed the "walkman" and the introduction of video. These, too, moved us forward into more accessible information, but also has taken away from some of the quality family-time our parents stemmed from. The technology is taking us through another change, and there will be, to my mind, successes as well as casualties.

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  2. Thanks Suzanne for your response. I appreciate your thoughts. I think I agree with you. I don't want technology for technology's sake. I am not interested in the coolness factor. However, I sometimes think we believe that technology is at the root of what is wrong in our society. Rather, I think technology has the potential to invigorate our society to reconnect, refocus on learning, and reevaluate our role in a democratic society.

    Our ability to connect with people near and far, to find answers to the unending list of questions we create, and the ability to have a take on what is happening in our government are huge advantages that we didn't have until recently. What is lacking for me is a focus on the responsible use of technology. Instead we seem more interested in placing blame for the fact that we don't make time for family on it.

    I agree that technology will cause us to lose some things we have held dear for a long time, but it will also usher in some new opportunities. I for one plan to focus on the positives.

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