Libraries exist to serve the needs of their public. Traditionally they have existed to serve needs for information and entertainment. That accounts for the books, periodicals, computer resources, and audiovisual collections, but not necessarily every service or collection. The Helen Plum Library in Lombard, Illinois lends out paintings and sculptures. I found the sculptures handy when I was teaching a humanities course, but apparently most people borrow them just to redecorate their homes for a short time. In earlier posts 3 unusual and unexpected library services and 5 more unusual and unexpected library services I have called attention to unusual ways academic and public libraries have found to serve their patrons. Printing fish? Cooking classes in a professional kitchen? Here are some more innovative programs. School libraries, unfortunately, seem under attack. Too many of the articles I have read still seem to find it unusual that libraries can be anything more than book warehouses. How will today’s children get to know libraries any better if they are denied access to them now?
Continue reading →To many grownups, teenagers always seem to be goofing off with various electronic toys: cell phones, music players, game consoles, portable computers, and the like. Teenagers certainly consume a lot of digital media. Libraries are discovering that this same passion for digital technology can help develop creativity and critical thinking skills. In November 2011, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, along with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, made grants of $100,000 to twelve museums and libraries across the country to develop digital learning laboratories for teenagers. They will announce another round of grants in November 2012. Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia inspired the grant program. It is a special space where teenagers can use equipment provided by the library to create the same sorts of media that they consume. Creativity requires the development of certain skills. Digital creativity, of course, requires digital skills. But creativity has always required a variety of intellectual, social, and emotional disciplines. The electronic age has not changed that fact at all. It doesn’t work to plan a new program for a particular constituency and then dictate how it has to work. Development of YOUmedia has required some cultural … Continue reading →