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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Gig's Up: Librarians Really Just Want Patrons to READ more.

At this point in history,  it's fair to say that not everyone is born a reader.  A while ago ALA graphic store had a cute little onesie that said "Born to Read" .  It was cute but not accurate.  It's what we all want to believe as librarians and educators.  In all honesty,  some need to be taught and shown that reading is essential and fun.  Especially since the younger generation is constantly bombarded with all types of electrical gadgets and toys to grab their attention.


How do we get child who does not have the DNA stamped reader in him?  Give him or her  books.  Doesn't make sense to do this right?  Wrong.  It's the attitude of keep trying until the right book is found to engage their minds. Despite what certain educational sources claim about  studies  that prove  video games can teach valuable skill, such as strategy or critical thinking, there is a deep concern about what is lost when children are ensnared into the video game world.  Quite simply the ability to communicate and express oneself is lost.     When it comes time to interact with a live person, the communication and social skills, these children demonstrate their awkwardness.   It really is easy to identify a child who reads regularly and the one who is the "gammer".   Reading helps strengthen the vital skills needed to interact with the real world.

As professionals who work with readers of all ages,  the main objective should be to encourage reading for any reason and for every season.    In the past couple of years there have been trends in library programming to offer gaming at the library.  Initially, this seemed like a great idea.  A chance to reach out to the gammers who would normally pass up the library without a second thought or glance. The theory was once the gammers came in, they would check out video games and perhaps glance over the books.    However,  as technology changed allowing better, faster and easier access to games through smart phones,  the need for programs aimed at gammers diminished.  Why go to the library to play a game when an entire network is available at a finger tip?   As a matter of fact, games can be played anywhere, anytime.  Can the library provide this?

The answer to that question is yes, it's possible to provide  24/7 access. At what cost?  It's not just the dollars we are speaking about.  It's the value of the library and it's services to the community.  If the mindset continues that there is no need to go into the library, the building disappears, the staff  go home and the patterns will find other places to sit and click.  After all the library has fallen into the trap of trying to make everyone happy and no one is thrilled about the library


Perhaps it's time to fess up and let the world know what libraries are really all about and not shy away behind the curtain wanting to be  everything for everyone.  Libraries are all about information.  Gathering, reading and absorbing information  to give meaning or usefulness in ones life.  Libraries are literary and should be proud of what the provide.  Why tangle in the mess of  video games,  cafe shops in libraries, and legos contests.?   It's time to go back to the basis and reach out to the community and invite them to enjoy a good book --- on us.  It's a small step to chaining a community and strengthening  communication skills.  What could be a more important roll for librarians?






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