The Evolving Library

1Q01058Last week, when I realized that my thirty-year-old dictionary needed to be rebound, I decided that my best bet for a solution to this problem was a visit to our school librarian.  Our extraordinary librarian then identified a bookbinder in Brooklyn, brought it to them, and in less than a week, my previously dilapidated dictionary was restored and is now in pristine condition. This is just one example of why our evolving libraries are more important than ever and serve as the hub to any intellectual enterprise in the world of academia and beyond.

A couple of years ago, I read an article inHarvard Magazine whose thesis was that despite the gains we have made in the world of technology, the library is still a central component that will help our civilization to advance, of which I took note.

The following are some of the reasons why the Harvard Magazine article sustains the point of view that the future is very bright for libraries:

  1. Libraries will ride the crest of the tidal wave of information, in some cases building collections for scholars to peruse.
  2. Librarians are no longer just curators of books, maps, posters, etc., in our new digital environment; they will be specialists in organizing, accessing and preserving information in multiple media forms.
  3. The Google Book Service explodes the notion of a curated collection; therefore, the librarian, by assembling a collection of materials that is consciously created and carefully crafted, deliberately maintains a body of material that actually supports and sustains any type of meaningful inquiry.
  4. Given the gazillion facts that we are bombarded with on a daily basis, librarians are now charged with teaching our students not only how to search, but how to think critically about the information to which they may be exposed.
  5. Finally, our librarians are necessary for preserving our history and values, since we have yet to test the longevity of a lot of our digital resources.

photo 1At Staten Island Academy, our librarian works closely with each and every one of our students:

  1. She provides instruction on various literary skills—from accessing resources in a variety of formats, to evaluating the usefulness and reliability of those sources, to using information effectively and responsibly.
  2.  She maintains a collection of books, both print and electronic, that are of high literary quality as well as interest to our population.  She also works to ensure that our collection represents the diverse needs and backgrounds of our students and the larger community.
  3. She collaborates with classroom teachers to integrate a rich variety of resources into the curriculum and assists with special projects that require students to focus on the research process and building information literacy skills authentically.
  4. She partners with students and faculty, helping them to work through technology and/or information obstacles to accomplish academic goals and tasks.
  5. By supplying print and electronic resources that relate to topics of study, our librarian integrates technology into class projects and collaborates on how to use new technologies purposefully.

Finally, as Heather Dugan has written, the new librarian is no longer just a keeper of the Dewey Decimal System; she/he is a digital archivist, savvy with searches, keywords and helpful websites.  Thanks to our wonderful librarian, our students are on a path to developing the five most common skills needed for 2015 according to the Department of Information Studies at the University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.  Because of our emphasis on doing it all here and recognizing the study by the Department of Information Studies, our students at Staten Island Academy are well on their way to developing an aptitude for customer-orientation, networking, information acquisition skills, tolerance of uncertainty and problem solving.

It can only happen here!

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