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Ask Slashdot: How To Reimagine a Library? 231

dptalia writes "I'm part of a team tasked with re-imagining my local elementary school's library. Libraries, especially school libraries, are struggling to remain relevant in today's world, when so much reading and research can be done from home. But this school has mostly low-income students who don't have the sort of high-tech resources at home that we all take for granted. What ideas do you have to turn an elementary school library into an environment that fosters innovation and technology?"
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Ask Slashdot: How To Reimagine a Library?

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  • Re:Most visitors... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Whorhay ( 1319089 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:05PM (#46049469)

    One of the things I kind of miss from going to the library is having a curated collection of books to peruse. When I try and find a good book to read on Amazon there is such an enormous collection of stuff that finding a new book is a serious challenge. When I was a kid I would just go to the relatively small section of the library and look through that. I could take a book off the shelf and read a few pages to see if it appealed at all. With online book stores I'm mostly left to buying books by authors I already know, exploring new authors is an fiscal gamble. So thus far I've bought very few ebooks, instead I've stuck to the public domain works.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:59PM (#46050215)

    I wouldn't worry much about technology even then. Not even this "innovation" thing, honestly.

    What libraries do, have been doing for a few thousand years already, is preserve knowledge and make it accessible. Note how "innovation" is no part of that, though it can definitely benefit from knowledge, such as knowing what has been tried before.

    So I would tell librarians to find ways, innovative ways if they must, to bring reader and knowledge together. That is what libraries should be about.

    You don't do that with fifty flavours of version-bound program-screenshot books, or with so much other shoddy shelf filling crud you see in poorer (knowledge-wise) libraries. You don't do that with fancy (and expensive, and noisy) techno-toys and more such silliness. You don't do that with "innovation".

    You do it by reaching out to the reader.

  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @05:26PM (#46050603) Homepage

    Most of us haven't been in a school library in years, unless we have kids who are of that age.

    There are a *lot* of librarian mailing lists out there ... if you want the geek perspective, try code4lib []. They won't suggest that you try to hack together your own loan system using smartphones & barcode readers. (they'll instead tell you about the one they made that you can have a copy of)

    Most of the innovation in library spaces is happening in public & college libraries these days, adding makerspaces [] or going high-tech [] ... but that's not applicable to an elementary school. I wouldn't even suggest it for a high school (where you'd have seperate computer labs, shop classes, home ec., etc.)

    I wouldn't even bother with educating them on the benefits of real, deep research vs. satisficing with the top hit from Google ... leave that for middle or high school. In elementary school, just focus on making reading accessible and fun.

    The only thing that you I think is wrong with school libraries is that they're closed in summer, so the books are sitting going to waste. I'd love to see there be better coordination between our local school & library systems, but our current library system is so disfunctional that I don't see that changing without them getting rid of the director who thought it was a good idea to fire all of the branch managers.

"It might help if we ran the MBA's out of Washington." -- Admiral Grace Hopper