School Libraries Brave the Future

by NYC Firm Schools on September 6, 2009

Many NYC Firm Schools have been spending a large portion of their funding to upgrade and modernize their libraries and media centers. The libraries that previous generations were familiar with are changing, morphing, moving fast to both take advantage of and keep up with the pace of available technology.

For those who believe that digitizing of books and information is a harbinger of a liberal school, and that those schools who grasp tightly onto paper in all its forms are purely traditional, then perhaps it would be helpful if you see the modern library as more of a hybrid ground than a compromise.

In a CNN article discussing the changing of the nation’s libraries, the changing role of the librarian is also talked about.

In a world where information is more social and more online, librarians are becoming debate moderators, givers of technical support and community outreach coordinators.

They’re also no longer bound to the physical library, said Greenwalt, of the library in Skokie, Illinois. Librarians must venture into the digital space, where their potential patrons exist, to show them why the physical library is still necessary, he said.

Use of U.S. public libraries is up over the past decade, though, and many people in the information and libraries field say they’re excited about opportunities the future brings.

In the very best of examples, the hybridization of the traditional library and the modern media center meet to form a whirlwind of information available in interactive forms in order to fully engage students and the public in general.

The library features an “info column,” where people share digital news stories; an “info galleria” where patrons explore digital maps layered with factoids; a digital floor that lets people immerse themselves in information; and RFID-tagged book phones that kids point at specific books to hear a story.

Libraries must evolve, not to enable them to compete for use and attention, but to enable its patrons to compete in a world where there is simply so much to learn.

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