Stop Making a Divide!
It has been a rambunctious few weeks on the alsc-l listserv and then followed up on the ALSC blog. What is ruffling feathers and raising tempers? The basic question of how we as youth librarians incorporate and curate digital content for kids – including very young kids.
A simple request to share thoughts with an app developer passed on to the listserv by Cen Campbell over at Little eLit blog elicited more action than I’ve seen on alscl in a while. Some people got quite off topic with flame-worthy insistence that digital content had no place in the library lives of kids between 0-5. The ALSC blog guest posts followed – here, here and here.
I never weighed in on this brouhaha except in comments. I will tell you, though, I was dismayed at some of the attitudes displayed and the arguments made against including digital content for young kids. Although we haven’t made much of a leap at our library, it is a direction I expect our team will be going much sooner rather than later. Again, Cen pointed the way in her Wrestling Your Bear post at the beginning of November. That coupled with the provocative thinking in the Libraries and Transliteracy blog (now finished) really informed my thinking.
Cen’s thoughts dovetail with mine. This semester I have been teaching a graduate level Children’s and YA Services course for UW-Madison. One of our textbooks, Adele Fasick’s From Boardbook to Facebook, published in 2011, makes the case for the direction youth libraries will inevitably be moving in. It’s a direction that seamlessly blends traditional print with digital content to meet the needs of our families. I would be remiss as an instructor – and as a practicing librarian – not to look further and more deeply into the future that is truly happening right now. My students need to be open to the possibilities they will experience at the beginning – as well as at the end – of their careers.
While I appreciate the hesitation and worry about screen time expressed by people, I also think it is incredibly short-sighted and darn near dereliction of duty not to stand-up, research-up, read-up, learn-up, understand-up AND change-up for positive support and curation of digital content for kids. Arguing as Luddites that screens time is a no-no below a certain age ignores the rich (and sometimes stupid and banal) content that parents are tapping into already. As youth librarians we need to understand and lead, model and recommend to help our families find the best for their kids.
I hope people stop thinking of why not and start thinking of why and how. We serve our communities best when we add to our knowledge base, bridge the divides – and change and evolve with the times. By learning from and collaborating with each other we all gain.