Hi, folks. Because I’m no longer doing children’s work in libraries, and have felt myself drifting further away from children’s work, I’m ending this blog.
I have lots more to say, but I think I will be saying things about the future of libraries that are more general, and all-ages, in nature. Come back soon, and I hope to have some new stuff to share.
We’re in an interesting spot in public libraries now. Books are definitely not as important to American culture as they were when I began my career as a librarian in 1975. Electronic media now dominate most aspects of our intellectual and entertainment lives in the way printed matter once did, and the portion of our lives taken up by electronic media will only grow larger as the years pass. Is this wrong? Is this bad? No, I don’t think so, as long as each new generation learns how to be literate and make judgments about what they read, see, and hear.
What I see in many public libraries right now is a place in which people who can’t afford broadband Internet can get it for free, 30 minutes or 45 minutes or an hour at a time. While providing this service is a good thing, it leaves many of us librarians feeling a bit overtrained as we unclog a printer or demonstrate how to log into an e-mail account. Where are the old-fashioned reference questions we were educated to answer? I see them rarely now.
We need to unveil and be able to explain clearly to our users what it is that we do, and why it’s important. As I’ve said in these posts several times, I know why I do what I do for a living: I think literacy is crucial. Too many folks don’t have it, or don’t have enough of its multiple skills to use it well. Everyone needs to share literacy, to drink the word in deeply. I hope the library profession continues to believe that literacy is the reason we all have jobs.