I was surprised to read in the Dec. 25 Strib last week that Benilde-St. Margaret’s School has gotten rid of print books in its library and made it into a digital learning center: Stacks of books are history at Benilde library
Leaders at the school in St. Louis Park decided against trying to duplicate what area public libraries offer. Instead, they will emphasize teaching the school’s 1,200 students to find reliable information electronically.
It is among the first schools in the state to take out stacks and transform its library into a digital learning center.
This is relevant for Northfielders, since the Transformational Technology Project at the Northfield Public Schools is moving to the next stage.
Two days later this article appeared in the Dec. 27 NY Times: Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close
Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grass-roots technology training centers. Faced with the need to compete for shrinking municipal finances, libraries are determined to prove they can respond as quickly to the needs of the taxpayers as the police and fire department can.
… many libraries are culling their collections and adapting floor plans to accommodate technology training programs, as well as mini-conference rooms that offer private, quiet spaces frequently requested by self-employed consultants meeting with clients, as well as teenagers needing space to huddle over group projects.
This is relevant for Northfielders since A) the City of Northfield has begun a search for a new library/IT director; and B) the proposed expansion of the Northfield Public Library is likely to soon be considered by the Northfield City Council.
That NY Times article prompted this Room for Debate feature: Do We Still Need Libraries?
- Failing to Close the ‘Digital Divide’ by Susan Crawford, visiting professor, Harvard Law School. The demand for libraries’ limited resources has outstripped the supply of both computers and bandwidth.
- More Relevant Than Ever by Luis Herrera, city librarian, San Francisco. Libraries are a place for personal growth and reinvention, a gathering place for civic engagement.
- It’s Not Just Story Time and Bookmobiles by Buffy Hamilton, school librarian, Canton, Ga. An old institution is incorporating new roles: as “makerspaces,” as centers of community publishing, and as digital learning labs.
- For Gathering and for Solitude by Matthew Battles, author, “Library: An Unquiet History.” We still need spaces for making knowledge and sharing change, and some of those, surely, we will continue to call “the library.”