Libraries Get the Shaft in Otherwise Cool Book

I just started reading John Palfrey and Urs Gasser’s Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (review to come).

It depresses me that I didn’t have to read any further than page 2 to hear libraries being slammed:

[Digital natives] study, work, write and interact with each other in ways that are very different from the ways you did growing up.  They read blogs rather than newspapers. They often meet each other online before they meet in person. they probably don’t even know what a library card looks like; and if they do, they’ve probably never used it.


That hits right where it hurts.  Granted, this book was written in 2008 (that’s TOTALLY ancient), and I don’t remember seeing either of the authors at CLA this year to see all the cool stuff lots of public libraries are doing for these digital natives.  We’re working on it, guys!

I held regular teen craft nights in my branch where we made duct tape iPod protectors.  We’re acquiring all sorts of eReaders in my current library to train the staff with so they know what to do when someone comes in and says “I can’t get this eBook to work!” We’re working on changing the minds of the more conservative librarians who think that all a library will ever need to provide for young people is books and storytimes.  We’re facebooking, tweeting, blogging, chat referencing and tumblring.  We’re LMFAOing.  We’re pimping our iPhones right along with our bookcarts.

But we can’t compete with AmazoniTunes, GoogleB&N, The Pirate Bay or all sorts of other providers of digital entertainment when it comes to ease and convenience.  Not yet.  We need some of those digital natives to infiltrate the publishers to make it a little easier to lend digital content.


Page 8 says this:

Librarians, too, are reimagining their role: Instead of primarily organizing book titles in musty card catalogs and shelving the books in the stacks, they serve as guides to an increasingly variegated information environment.

Ok, they get points for the “increasingly variegated information environment” bit, but these dudes must be old.  Card catalogues?  Librarians shelving books? That’s just crazy talk.


Posted on December 29, 2011, in Digital Native, Early Literacy, facebook, Media Literacy, Review. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Digital Native. Interesting term. I tried to ask my mom a former Grade 1 teacher why we are adverse to ebooks for kids. She figures kids brains learn in 3D and that screens are for later. She couldn't see the benefit of ebook over paperbook so didn't see the change as worth it. on a similar note I loved fuzzy letters and textures in kids books:)Also libraries are a good public place to just be. You aren't a consumer of a coffee shop you are just a citizen and therefore allowed to be. We need more areas like that.

  2. That's the thing- there is no eBook vs paper book debate. It's eBooks (digital literacy) in ADDITION to paper books (traditional literacy). Kids need both! There is no "change," and no one is advocating the abolition of paper books for children. We're keeping the fuzzy textures! The board books! The turning of pages and the smell of toxic Chinese ink! We're just adding smart phones, tablet and eReaders, because that's where the future is. 3D may be the way they learn, but to function in this world, they're going to need to navigate those 2D screens intelligently and efficiently.

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