In April the American Library Association published its annual State of America’s Libraries report. This comprehensive look at trends and issues related to libraries and their full usage is an essential resource for those interested in sustainable and fully accessible libraries for all communities and certainly for all schools.
As we approach the start of the 2019-20 school year here in the USA, these reports are a must-have resource for those wishing to promote children’s comprehensive ability to access information about any idea or enterprise from any medium.
The full network of any individual’s or community’s library resources this year is comprehensive in its scope and reach. Libraries are also now so pervasive that the need for creating and maintaining a relationship with every kind of library should be considered for developing lifelong learners akin to their reliance upon oxygen or water.
To fully participate as informed and contributing citizens, kids must mentally own libraries. In this country and other free societies, libraries offer resources for families and businesses, entrepreneurs and workers, from the youngest children to retired adults, for beginners in any enterprise, career, or program of studies to visionaries and thought leaders in those realms.
In the past few decades libraries have outgrown their buildings and physical delivery systems to become available in just about everyone’s pocket via smartphone or tablet. Information that was once largely hidden from view, protected for only a qualified few to access, is now at everyone’s fingertips.
Consider that in any casual dispute, out come the phones and with the tap of a small screen anyone can immediately evoke the source of a bit of information or a vast range of ancillary material related to the issue. Those that seek to maintain a full grasp of any event, enterprise or idea can conceive of the Internet as an on demand, if chaotically organized and poorly maintained, library of information (with a lot of misinformation and fluff) sufficient to expand upon or utterly confuse virtually any subject! Growing pains!
Libraries provide access to original documents and other media for the use of everyone, from the mildly curious or the manically driven. So the question is, How are we teaching the thinkers and doers of the future about accessing and using these magnificent, as yet unwieldy resources? Master librarians are working now to create new tools to improve coherence, credibility and accessibility to these expanding resources. In contrast, some schools are just teaching children how to find and check out an enjoyable book. In order for children to learn to access and leverage the vast potentials of libraries in their lives, a great deal must be done.
It is axiomatic that children learn about what they are excited about. Much school attention is directed at developing “core” content and “the basics,” for every child. More importantly however, we must lead them to develop their very own interests and pursue their very own talents and inquiries. Through those kinds of engagements they will come to master and eventually contribute to the ever-expanding libraries of tomorrow.