PVLD has worked hard to develop a community awareness of the role public libraries play as a partner in education, and to develop active partnerships with local schools. As the current economic crisis unfolds and our public schools are forced to lay off school library staff, technology aides, and teachers our PVLD staff have been wrestling with how best to support students, parents and teachers within the constraints of our own limited resources. Through the current strategic planning process we've also been wrestling with developing a vision for our future in the face of technological and societal changes.
One of the things that seems certain is that we are almost certainly, as David Lee King put it in a recent blog post, at "The Beginning of a New Normal". David's post was primarily about the restructuring of our economy with the potential for entire industries to disappear (print media? American automotive manufacturing?), an acceleration of the shift from physical to digital channels of distribution of content, and the growing importance of the "long tail"...and the implications for libraries.
All of that is of great interest, but what grabbed my attention was a link that was somewhat buried in the body of the blog post that triggered David's thoughts. The blog post that got me thinking was Hacking Education (continued) by New York Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson. It reports on a conversation among a number of leading entrepreneurs and education thinkers on the topic of how education needs to be "hacked" (i.e. broken into and reconfigured).
In the blog post Wilson summarizes a number of trends that I think have significant implications not just for schools, but for libraries. How will we -
In a world where the line between student and teacher is increasingly blurred, we'll need to figure out how to provide the tools for people to develop and publish content and learning (e.g. podcasting, webcasting, courseware etc.) not just get information from the Internet. This probably means moving from computer workstations out in the open to self-contained and sound-proofed learning/production stations.
As education and learning moves from classrooms to home- or office-based and/or online environments, it also will become a round-the-clock activity. This will increase the pressure on us to uncouple access to our resources and services from our physical facilities. We'll need to continue to find ways to answer questions, deliver information and content, and provide support to people who aren't at the physical library, and to do it 24/7.
These are challenges for sure, but they may also provide a real opportunity to engage with our local schools in a much more meaningful way to help them navigate these changes and to integrate our respective activities to provide seamless support to the learners in our community - wherever and whenever they need it. Food for thought....