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Thoughts about libraries, education, children's literature, writing, art and being connected

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Week 6 Thing 15 - Future of Libraries

Having read all the articles listed, I must admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed. While I agree with others that Away from Iceburgs was quite thought provoking, the article which made the greatest impact on me was To a temporary place in time. Library 4.0??!! I'm still struggling with Library 2.0. I thought I was on the way to being relatively current. I didn't think about keeping up with the latest and greatest of technologies when I applied for graduate school and proclaimed libraries to be my life work. It came as rather a surprise as did the fact that I actually liked the challenge. The difficulty which nags at me is the ability for us to continue to adapt ourselves to current trends. Being relatively new to the field, I still find it stimulating and exciting. I wonder how that will be as the years go by and I have ridden wave after wave of innovation.

The other huge question which remains on my mind is the seemingly insurmountable gulf which separates the populations which are being discussed in these articles (a society which is web-saavy, connected and information literate) and the patrons that still make up significant part of school libraries (unconnected, impoverished, web-newbies or non-participants). Several years ago I read an article which quoted the percentage of school libraries which have yet to automate as being higher than 50%. If I remember correctly, it was significantly higher. If this be the case, we are not ready for the web-saavy, but our patrons may not be ready for more either. I have had the experience of being told not to use the latest innovations on the school website, rather I should use the simplest interfaces possible in order to reach the greatest numbers of families. There is a kind of sense to this which comes at the problem from a different direction and no less valid.

My conclusion:

Web 2.0 holds the possibility of unbelievable wealth of connectivity. Concurrently, web 2.o will be one of the greatest causes of widening the digital divide. The ability to keep up with the changes will be too great for the average person and nearly impossible for the person who does not own their own computer. Think of all those people who line up at the public library to wait for a turn to check their email. Where will they be when web 2.0 becomes the rule of the workplace rather than the innovation?

1 comment:

bookwoman said...

Wow! Right you are about the divide between the "haves" and "have nots" - and among the "have nots" are the elementary schools! I get so excited when I see what can be done on and with the web, but then I look at my school machines and know that they could never handle it. So where does that leave a student who has no access at home and inadequate access at school? It is a problem for sure, and as children don't vote and the power of their dollar is minimal ... no one will listen. This was really insightful. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.