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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Library of Congress

It has been a tiring week, trying to fit in study around Nicholas, who is 5 months old. The last time I did study, I was child-free and could affort the luxury of endless hours of reading and digesting. This time around I need to be a bit smarter about how I go about it.

A friend posted this link to Facebook, a documentary on the Library of Congress and I thought it an interesting given that we are exploring the meaning of the modern library.

"This program looks behind-the-scenes at the Library of Congress, allowing viewers to learn the history of the institution as they tour the Library’s iconic Jefferson Building and see some of the treasures found in its collections of rare books, photos, and maps. It will also feature a look at some of the presidential papers housed there, ranging from George Washington through Calvin Coolidge. Viewers will learn how the library uses technology to preserve its holdings and expand public access to them. It will also show how technology is helping to uncover new information about some of the items in its collections."

Monday, July 18, 2011

When did Library become a dirty word?

I think that Monday night will probably become my study night. Just me, my macbook and the online forums for my course. I have been starting to read through the blog entries from some of the other students in my course and the one question that popped into my head was "When did Library become a dirty word?".

Our schools don't seem to have Libraries any more. They have Information Services, Knowledge Hubs and Resource Centres. Has the true meaning of a Library been lost in the renaming of this resource in our schools?

My earliest memory of the School Library was working as a student at the end of the year in the Library sorting books and organising resources. But that doesn't seem to be sexy anymore. The new School Library has to be hip, happening and ICT integrated. Has the true meaning of the School Library lost it's way?

I had a great conversation on Facebook tonight about the importance of teaching students about how information is cataloged with a view to students being able to retrieve information more easily. My background is through teaching Information Technology in schools and over the years I have frequently taught "searching skills" to students.

Whilst many students are excellent at looking productive online ("oh look what Johnny found online ... "), the reality is that many students find information via serendipity rather than using a system of searching. I often tell students that if the search engine sends back >1000 search results, then you need to refine your search. That often means using Advanced Searching functions.

At it's core, the School Library is all about information organisation and retrieval so why can't we just call it what it has been known as for centuries ... a Library?