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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Geographer Looks at EdTech - Part 5 - Libraries

--- This post is the fifth in a ten part series examining top 2011 trends in education technology in the context of GIS and geography education. ---

The fifth theme Audrey Watters identified in her top ten list of ed tech for 2011 is the non-uptake of e-textbooks and the rebirth of libraries. She details how libraries are making more content available online, are become newfangled learning labs and in some geographies, Maker Labs. While she acknowledges the ongoing challenges of libraries sharing e-books, she is confident the "library as more than book repository" is long term win.

I'm with her on that vision. My mother was a librarian and she was one of the smartest people I even met. She taught me to love libraries and how to use them. I keep a close watch on my public library. We in Somerville, MA love it so much that we convinced the city to find money to keep it open for just four hours on Sundays during the winter. If you visit during that window, you'll find it packed. It's also packed after school, mostly with students banging away on the computers. Some are doing schoolwork and others are on Facebook.  The non-students are typically working on their resumes. I love the energy there and how all of the city uses it. What do I do there? Catch up on old issues of Runner's World, check out vegetarian cookbooks and find DVDs of all those HBO shows I've not yet seen.

I had a chance to help out in a local private school library this fall. The one room library was being updated with computers and a smart board. The librarian, who already teaches classes, was excited to have even more use of the space before, during and after school. If you love school libraries, I highly recommend this podcast from American Public Media.

So, where does GIS fit into libraries? Everywhere! Libraries must have altases, globes, GIS and educators to enable their use. Esri had it 100% right when it started ite Schools and Libraries group. I'm imagining K-12 students visiting their school or public library weekly to learn about all sorts of information resources and issues. GIS should be just one of them. Oh, and I want to see a parallel track of courses available weekly, open to all, at the public library.

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