School of the Future: Libraries Not Needed

Infomancy writes "Though LISNews covered the opening of the Microsoft/Philadelphia School of the Future, a critical part of the story was missed. The School of the Future, you see, lacks a library. In fact, Microsoft's vision statement for the School of the Future takes quite a few cheap shots at libraries.

The Internet has expanded access to information, removing both teacher and student dependencies on a limited amount of information sources. Education is no longer bound by the limits of the teacher, textbook, or the books in the school library...Moreover, the Internet offers students in low-income and remote locations far more information than any single traditional library.[Microsoft]

Apparently Microsoft doesn't realize that libraries can use the Internet as well or that the "single traditional library" in a low-income or remote location may be the only possible way for residents to connect to the Internet (or connect with broadband speeds).

Coming after the recent use of libraries as a metaphor to describe the "disaster" of education by Dr. Roger Schank, this again showcases the need for librarians to move into mainstream media and redefine the perception of libraries."


I know it is a bitter pill to swallow, but it is time to recognise that libraries no longer hold the monopoly on information. People now have sources of information other than libraries. They no longer soley rely on libraries for information. Libraries are becoming less relevant to many people. Simply put, libraries are outdated, like typewriters are. It is not just matter of changing people's perceptions. How can you change people's perception of typewriters? Typewriters have been surpassed by computers. Fact, not perception. Libraries are fast becoming surpassed by other sources of information. Libraries in its current state are certain to become extinct.

Private libraries DO have a monopoloy on some types of information. Public libraries DO NOT have a monopoly on information, and seek to provide access to information to as many aspects of society as possible. Information is attainable, but what is the quality or veracity of the information? Does the source have an agenda that could affect who receives what information? Librarians evaluate information, as well as the source of information. What library have you currently been to that would create a perception of extinction? As an employee at a thriving public library, I am puzzled by your perception. As a graduate student in library science, I suggest you do more research on your perception.

I think the key issue in the original post is the fact that many poor, rural, or minority communities must rely on libraries for public access to the Internet and information. It is a hasty generalization to assume that libraries exist only to provide books. Even the smallest rural library tries to have at least a few computers with Internet access for their patrons, opening the doors not only to the vast array of information on the web but also the possibility of searching other library catalogs and participating in Interlibrary Loan. Shame on Microsoft for not recognizing this fact, especially since the Gates foundation provided so many of the computers to those rural libraries.

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