Do Libraries Matter?

By Anthony Rebora — March 16, 2007 1 min read
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From the changing-world department: An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal laments the displacement of libraries in today’s learning environment. While many adults “recall the libraries of our childhoods as magical places,” writes columnist Jeff Zaslow, kids today—virtually weaned on Google—“feel little connection” to the local stacks. “The library is removed from their lives,” comments one retired librarian. “It’s a last-ditch place to go if they need to find something out.” Zaslow believes the trend has a direct educational impact: As students become more reliant on the Internet for schoolwork, he says, many get to college with little sense of how to use the library for research. They may also be missing out on deeper kinds of learning and discovery. “The library is about delayed gratification,” says Mel Levine, a pediatrics professor quoted by Zaslow. “It’s about browsing through the shelves of biographies. ‘Do I want Jackie Robinson? Franklin Roosevelt? What will I do when I grow up?’ The library slows you down and makes you think.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.