My reflections while teaching Foundations of Libraries & Information Science
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Thursday, March 15, 2012
Libraries as Place within our Communities
Today is the ides of March and I am thinking of my
college days when I read Julius Caesar and the other noble Romans. The library
at my alma mater has a huge collection of materials where I felt welcome to
study and explore the world of books.
The place of
libraries in society is ever changing. As I study the history of libraries
throughout this Foundations course, I see the building and organization evolve
from a place where people shared ideas and philosophies, to one for
self-education, to a social place. Libraries are no longer those quiet havens
for the thinker but the noisy hub for joint projects and group learning.
Evolution occurs whether we want it to or not. But if we don't embrace the
change, we get left behind.
At the same
time, there are many students who want quiet places to study. Every time I
enter the elevator at the library, I see students seeking the upper floors
where there are still study carrels and quiet nooks where they can concentrate
or work uninterrupted. Good for them. I often wonder how students can study and
be productive around all the noise. Then again, I need quiet to read and
concentrate on what I am trying to absorb. When I was a student, I had my
secret places where I studied in the library. They were tucked into forgotten
corners of the building. I could work there for hours without interruption. When
I wanted to study in a social environment, there was a huge room where I could
go, find a snack (the only place you could eat in the library), and be amidst
my fellow students.
the new book by Susan Cain Quiet: the
power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking (NY: Crown Publishers,
2012). The author is fascinated by introverts and extroverts. While reading her
introduction, I wonder if study habit (quiet place vs. study commons) is
connected with this personality type. This book is an interesting study of
people who prefer quiet over noisy social and work environments, who would
rather read a book than go to a party. Since this personality trait seems to
run through many librarians, Quiet is
important to read so we understand how to make ourselves and other introverts comfortable
in today’s society of extroverts.
become more important over time and libraries are in the right place to give
students place and space to study and grow. With the current trend of library
as noisy place, as social and meeting place, it is important to set aside spaces
for those who revel in quietude.