Libraries

Over at his blog, Philip Waring ponders "the loss of the paper book, the newspaper, and the magazine."

The books I own, probably only a few thousand remaining of the 10s of thousands I have owned in my lifetime, comfort me and call me back to all, or nearly all the important moments of my past life.

Seth Godin wonders more specifically about the future of the library.

More librarians are telling me (unhappily) that the number one thing they deliver to their patrons is free DVD rentals. That's not a long-term strategy, nor is it particularly an uplifting use of our tax dollars.

Here's my proposal: train people to take intellectual initiative.

Once again, the net turns things upside down. The information is free now. No need to pool tax money to buy reference books. What we need to spend the money on are leaders, sherpas and teachers who will push everyone from kids to seniors to get very aggressive in finding and using information and in connecting with and leading others.

Hmm. How does this apply to Ed School libraries?

Let's side aside the questions of libraries and their function for the professors and PhD students. Think about the day-to-day job of schoolteacher. Not only is information free. It's overwhelming. Test score data. Emails from peers and principals. Articles everywhere: often free, sometimes fee. Websites with tons of free teacher materials. TeacherTube. Curriki. BetterLesson.

Where should a teacher prep program (masters or undergraduate) put its limited dollars? The safe route is stick to libraries: books, staff, subscriptions, desktops, etc.

An alternative, I suppose, is using those funds for the "personal training" of each future teacher for the day-to-day job they'll actually get. We could prep them to handle this firehose of information.

They'll still get wet, but maybe avoid getting knocked off their feet.