Tearing Down the Walls
by Dick Kaser
When Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed delegates to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference this summer, he touted an experiment his city is running to combine public and school libraries into “community” learning centers. While the economic advantages of combining facilities might seem to be a no-brainer, some argue that the missions of school and public libraries are inherently different—possibly incompatible. But as more and more public libraries take on the mantle of lifelong learning advocacy, perhaps it is only a matter of time before the walls that separate public and school libraries come tumbling down.
This back-to-school issue of Computers in Libraries is all about how librarians have removed barriers that seemed insurmountable: media that fails at the moment it needs to perform, content licensing models that might not work to lasting advantage, and systems that don’t talk to each other.
In all three cases, the solutions presented here depended on collaboration in order to create innovation:
- Working with vendors to get library content into the campus course management system and provide students with a seamless learning experience
- Working with IT developers to create an ebook lending system that actually permits libraries to own digital copies, and thus build a lasting collection
- Working with faculty to dodge the bullet when it comes to technology failure during live demonstrations
The whole issue just goes to show that when librarians combine their intimate knowledge of content and media with their skills in information technology, new value is almost certain to be created.
Join us for the 17th annual Internet Librarian and Internet@Schools conference next month in Monterey, Calif., where the theme is always techno innovation.