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Whither school libraries?

In an era of instant access to information, smartphones, social media and Artificial Intelligence, what will be the role of school libraries and librarians?

By Ken Wackes January 2018

We thought we were making a monumental leap forward in the 1980’s when we began using the designation “library/media center” and referred to librarians as “media specialists.” Librarians were no longer custodians merely of books but also of film projectors, overhead projectors, film strips, eight-track tape players, and sign-up lists for teachers to use these new technologies.

When computers and computer projectors hit the scene, the “media specialists” were in many cases no longer “specialists” and the hardware and software they had previously been managing became obsolete.

When the Internet arrived, it enabled students and teachers to access millions more books, maps, graphics, and encyclopedias than could be held in one school’s library holdings.

Now we are on the cusp of what is considered to be a greater technological change for society than electricity—Artificial Intelligence.

Self-driving cars, trucks, lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners, robots that restock shelves in Walmart and Home Depot, and Amazon drones that deliver goods to the front door—these are part of the AI Revolution.

Artificial Intelligence is already all around us. Without Artificial Intelligence there would be no Amazon, Facebook, Google, or the amazing Siri, Google Now, and Watson—and the AI backbone of computerized student grading programs.

The big question is, how will we best get information to our students and get them “future ready” for universities whose libraries have increasingly become heavily digital?

Related Articles

From Kindle and iBooks to news organizations and professional journals, the printed page is being gradually augmented by its digital counterparts—and giving up physical space increasingly in school and university libraries to digital content.

The following articles demonstrate how school libraries are moving forward with new technology. “Future-Ready” libraries seek to help prepare future-ready students who will perform jobs, 80% of which do not yet even exist.

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