In preparation for an upcoming symposium on the Future of Libraries, here are a few thoughts I have put together regarding the function of libraries in education and communities. As I am a community college librarian, I am coming at these issues specifically from that perspective.
Function of community colleges
- Reducing the cost of higher education
- Creating an educational environment which introduces community members (of all ages) to higher learning and makes them feel welcome.
- Bridging the precarious gap between high school and higher education.
- Retraining the population during economic and technological shifts.
Libraries are part of the continuum of life-long learning:
- Public libraries familiarize and welcome children into the learning environment
- Dual-use facilities (such as the partnerships between Harris County Library & Lone Star College at Cyfair and Tomball, and The Front Range Community College and the Fort Collins, Colorado Public Library Harmony Branch in particular) introduce children to the college environment and create a sense of welcoming.
- K-12 libraries facilitate elementary learning, create foundations of knowledge, and prepare students for further education.
- Dual-enrollment (high school students in community colleges) programs smooth the path and encourage the precarious transition between elementary and higher education. Community college librarians have the opportunity to provide basic information literacy training very early in these students’ academic careers.
- Community college libraries supply entry to higher education, bridge the gap between high school and college, and also supply low-cost education to non-traditional age students.
- Multiple Institution Learning Centers (partnerships between community colleges and universities which offer higher degrees) help to reduce educational costs and solve problems of distance. MILC libraries coordinate services between partner university libraries and deliver them to students.
- Distance learning programs provide even greater reductions in educational costs and problems of distance, but conversely create greater challenges in terms of information access. Embedded librarians in electronic classrooms (taking advantage of advanced communication applications) and tools for facilitating access to library resources directly through the electronic classroom are necessary.
- Academic libraries fulfill long term educational goals by providing substantial research resources and information access which will support the success of advanced degree students.
The following news release on the outstanding success of Harris County's Summer 2010 Reading Programs illustrates the power of the public library in introducing young people to the educational environment:
Statistics for the 1st Week of SRP (Children's Program & Teen Program)
Here are the statistics for Catch the Reading Express from June 4th through June 10th :
Children Registered: 5,358 (only 2 are paper registrations). A total of 7,018 children have registered as of June 15th. 5,978 children were registered the 1st week of SRP in 2009.
Number of pages/minutes read: 135,707
Number of books read: 12,178
Number of children who have completed the program and received a certificate and a book (10 books or 500 pages or minutes): 797
Here are the statistics for Within Arms Reach from June 4th through June 10th:
Teens registered: 681 (only 11 paper registrations). A total of 859 teens have registered as of June 15th. 819 teens were registered the 1st week of SRP in 2009.
Number of books read: 1,551
Number of minutes spent reading: 25,200
Number of teens who completed the program and received a certificate and a book (5 books/ 600 minutes): 72
This is great start to a very busy and exciting summer!
--Monique Franklin, Children's Materials Selection Librarian, Harris County Public Library