Libraries for the next generation

Contrary to what many of us believe, libraries were present in our lives before we entered college, though in a somewhat different capacity. Think back to the libraries of our secondary schooling years, full of both resource books and the latest in fiction best sellers. The libraries that were often home to the annual scholastic book fair and to your schools computer lab.

These are the libraries that taught us the basic skills of computing; how to save, print and type; all things we now may think we’ve known since birth. While many collegiate libraries are focused on providing newer and better resources for us to use for research purposes, these libraries are focused on teaching you how to do research.

According to Bronwyn Main, head librarian at Joseph L . Carwise Middle School the technology gap existing for adolescents is very real.

“Students may be more exposed to technology, but they continue to struggle with basic technology skills like typing and being safe online,” Main said, “I tell my staff to never assume our students know something related to technology.”

While developing the basic skills of using technology and the internet safety are a huge part of the job of middle school librarians, they are still looking to develop new and interactive ways of incorporating technology into student’s daily lives.

“I would love to have an interactive screen where students can incorporate coding and gaming into projects that they are working on,” Main said, “I am also continuing to purchase more eBooks and audiobooks for students to read on mobile devices.”

While public school libraries are often home to a series of computers, many of us don’t remember the libraries of our youth for their technologically advanced states. For most of us, the library from our middle school years was a place where we would go to check out our next Judy Bloom book or look for the next book on our Battle of the Books list.

As these libraries do progress and work towards modernization through technology, they do not stray as far from their paper bound roots as their college-aged counterparts have. It is the responsibility of librarians like Bronwyn Main to weed through sites like Goodreads.com and student suggestions to find books that are relevant, popular and appropriate for the demographic they cater to.