Need Libraries

Yes, this blog is highly biased, but I think in these days of questioning centuries’ old brick-and-mortar institutions (and even casting them off as obsolete – be it book stores or newspapers), that we remain open to the possibility that we need libraries, now, more than ever.

In fact, there was a report from Scripps Howard just last month that explored this: “We need libraries most during recessions”

But it got me thinking on what the library experience can do for our cognitive development, especially those of young readers.

What’s it like for children who are being raised in the booming days of the Information Age? Where smartphones, tablets, (and soon, telepathy?) are becoming the norm? (Here’s a fun read from Giga-Om: “I Gave My 3 Year Old an iPhone: Have I Created a Monster?”

~The site, Literacy 2.0 recently expounded upon a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics on a phenomenon nicknamed ‘Facebook Depression,’ an intensification of peer-pressure or low self-esteem in one child spurred by their observance of the public display of ostensible coolness/popularity of other children. “A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones.” Gwenn O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP, co-author of the clinical report.

The editor of Literacy 2.0 suggests that kids need to develop the ability to “read between the status lines.” This ties, somewhat, into a recent article in Psychology Today that suggested “storytelling” aids in developing the ability to contextualize one’s life experiences through narrative (a process, by suggestion, that may be harder in an age of information overload). Storytelling can be a filter.

What better place, outside of a classroom or an AP English course, could one learn how to tell a story? We’re overrun with fine examples at the Public Library.

As the school year starts and we say good bye to summer, I’d like to draw attention to a study from last year, posted by the New York State Library – “The Importance of Summer Reading Programs”

So, anyhow…as Borders closes, as newspapers go online, and as Apple gets ready to unveil its iPhone-5… as we tumble further down the technologo-rabbit-hole, I’d like to remind readers that the Library is not just a building filled with old books – you can access electronic books (via MP3 formats) for your iPods or e-readers – we can coalesce along with the advance of technology.

That said, we are also a building filled with old books… And that shouldn’t be taken for granted. It’s all too easy to forget the backlog of historical documents, great authors classic works and new scientific studies that you can access through the bound materials in our collection.

I know many of you out there still haven’t read Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes or To Kill a Mockingbird. Think of the contextualization you could provide to your lives by finally making room, between-the-status-update-lines, to settle down and read a book. Relaxing, engaging and enlightening all at once.

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