School Libraries in the digital age.

“Ross Dawson, a business consultant who tracks different customs, devices, and institutions on what he calls an Extinction Timeline, predicts that libraries will disappear in 2019. He’s probably right as far as the function of the library as a civic monument, or as a public repository for books, is concerned. On the other hand, in its mutating role as urban hangout, meeting place, and arbiter of information, the public library seems far from spent. This has less to do with the digital world—or the digital word—than with the age-old need for human contact.”

Slate, an online magazine, has an article about the future of Libraries in the digital age. I got to it via a post on The Shifted Librarian. The above is a quote from the article which comes with accompanying slides. I think it’s a really interesting quote because in large part I agree with it. I’m a Teacher- Librarian and I can see the dust forming on our non-fiction collection. Today’s students just don’t go there all that much. We’ve created a high interest non-fiction collection as a means  of highlighting the really interesting content that is around and this is working. Last Friday we had a new couch delivered which has created a cosy nook around this area with some comfy cushions which we purchased last year. The kids love it – I don’t think I’ve seen it unoccupied since it arrived. This is the second couch – the first one we purchased last year and it resides in the reading area along with countless other cushions. Our students really appreciate the fact that we are trying to create a friendly and inviting space for them. Ross is right- the need for human contact is innate – our students like to hang out, lounge around, talk, listen to their Ipods, read, laugh, eat, talk to us, use their laptops – they like to connect, in whatever form that may be. We’re getting an interactive whiteboard installed in the next holiday break. We hope to offer visual stimulas via this in the school lunch breaks – be it student requested viewing material or things we source ourselves – maybe we can highlight great blogs that they could be reading or teach them how to use new things on the Web! Libraries need to respond to this digital age – I think we are doing this and our students are appreciating it. There are lunchtimes when every seat in the place is occupied. I work with a great team of people who are committed to our vision of where libraries are going. Nothing would work without this kind of support.   

Podcasting with Clay Burrel!

Wow – things can move really fast in this world. Last week I was writing about why I began writing this blog and why I think that blogging and making connections is an important tool for students’ learning. I did this for a staff PD session and thought no-one in the wider world would be interested. That post and the resultant interest led directly to a Skype conference call tonight with Clay Burrel, his Principal, my Principal, Lindsea (from the Global Cooling project and Students 2.0), and a student from my school. Clay recorded it as a podcast and is going to be posting it on his blog, Beyond School, in the near future.

The discussion ranged from the Global Cooling project to why we would want to encourage our students to use this medium to connect to how we can further our connections. Clay’s school is in Seoul, Korea and we are in Melbourne, Australia. Our time zones are complimentary (2 hours ahead in Aust.) and we could explore possibilities enabling our students to work together in the course of the school day.  

I’m wondering how the student from my school is feeling now – her head is spinning I bet and she’ll probably find it hard to get to sleep with the world that has just been opened up to her. She knew nothing of this until 8.00pm tonight when I knocked on her door (she lives quite close) and asked her if she would like to be involved in the conversation. I took her through some background re the project and Lindsea’s and Clay’s blogs. She’s a real go getter with a passion for the environment and I think she will want to run with things as a result of tonight.

Her head is probably spinning and I know mine is. I was thinking today of where this might be taking me and my school and I was reminded of the film Parenthood. At the end of the movie the Grandmother who everyone thinks has dementia talks to Steve Martin’s character about riding the rollercoaster. She’s making the analogy that life is a rollercoaster and you just have to ride it and enjoy it – there’s no point getting hung up and anxious about it.  Thinking about these connections and where it may take me and my students makes me excited but anxious too. There are times when I fear the rollercoaster and I get that knotted stomach worrying if I’m up to it – I’m going to have to leave that behind and enjoy the ride. I think it’s going to be a good one!

World Wide Telescope – Science teachers take note

This is from TED talks and has just been posted. It’s the first view of the World Wide telescope, a product of Microsoft, that is going to be available as a free download at the website worldwidetelescope.org in the Northern Spring of this year. Very interesting that Microsoft is offering it as a free download – this is why according to their FAQ page;

“Microsoft Research is dedicating WorldWide Telescope to the memory of Jim Gray and is releasing WWT as a free resource to the astronomy and education communities with the hope that it will inspire and empower people to explore and understand the universe as never before.”

Roy Gould, a researcher at the Harvard Centre for Astrophysics, thinks it’s truly transformative, enabling you to experience and tour the universe. You can create your own tours of the universe and share them with friends and they’re interactive- imagine all the possibilities this presents for classrooms and learning about astronomy – why wasn’t this around when I was a kid? I may have been an astronomer now if it had have been. I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky – I love to lose myself in it and contemplate my place in the world. This is going to be wonderful and I can’t wait to play and share it with my kids. Thanks to Jeff Utecht for the heads up to this from a Twitter post.