I received an e-mail early this morning from the librarian at Wellesley College, an independent boy’s school in Wellington, New Zealand. They are planning for a new library, and he was asking for some impressions from a number of educators, with whom I was honored to be included.
Since I am teaching two workshops today for librarians in Loudoun County, Virginia, I thought I would go ahead and write up a quick response and post it here. It’s nothing new, but I think that the nature of blogging allows us to repeat ourselves every time and again.
So here is my response:
One of the ideas that I promote today in my speeches, workshops, and writings, is that, at the same time that we teach our students to be responsible consumers of information, we should also be teaching them to be skilled and responsible producers of information. Look at the concept of the long tail and at the thousands of people who have become authors, musicians and composers, and movie makers, many of whom are drawing incoming by marketing their own information productions through the Internet.
In the information age, information will be the raw material that we work with, as we build unique and valuable information products in order to solve problems and accomplish goals.
Consider also, that today, and increasingly in the future, we live in a time when most of the information that we need to do our jobs is available at a mouse-click, from computers that we carry under our arms and in our pockets. In that kind of world, what place does the traditional library have. Certainly it has a place, but it is not as essential as it once was.
Considering both of these ideas, that children need to learn to be information producers, and that the traditional sense of the library does not fill the need that it once did, think of it (the library) not merely as a place where you go to consume information, but also as a place where you go to produce information. At the same time that students must learn to communicate with words, they must also learn to communicate with images, sound, animation, and video. Classrooms are not a good place to learn and master these skills. Perhaps libraries could be, and in the process reshape themselves into an institution that will be, must be, an essential part of 21st century learning and living — life-long.
Think, “Kinkos for Kids.”