Story 2: The New Learning Network

Education has changed, and Saint Paul – the entire city – is the campus for a 21st century learning system.  The “faculty,” “staff,” and “curriculum” are all the product of a purposeful partnership among pre-schools, K-12 schools, higher education, and informal learning organizations.  They actively collaborate to create a seamless learning system for children, teens and adults.  Together they target the skill development and knowledge building most important to Saint Paul’s continuing vitality.

SPPL plays an active role in the Saint Paul learning campus.  It uses diverse means to reach people – in libraries, community sites, mobile labs, and on-line.  Library spaces accommodate a variety of uses and groups of varying sizes either as stand-along libraries or as part of joint use facilities.  Classes and instruction are offered by library staff, tutors, and teachers from other institutions, and community organizations.

Library staff are part of a team offering instruction, reading events, books and e-readers, literacy-oriented play for children, media creation labs for teens, tutoring, and technology in locations throughout the community.  The Library actively facilitates on-line learning and supports research with phone, text, and on-line assistance.

Because services are less tied to buildings, SPPL and its partners are able to respond quickly to changing needs, populations, and neighborhoods.  Staff manage an extensive community-wide system making print and digital material available, and participate on collaborative teams offering teaching, instruction and training throughout the city.

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6 Responses to Story 2: The New Learning Network

  1. Steve Boland says:

    I think there will remain a need for library buildings as a core component of services. There is something important about gathering in a place dedicated to media of all kinds, and much content will remain available in physical copies for some time to come. My kids and I will sometimes reserve content online and just come to the library to pick it up – and in those cases I would take a digital copy, sure – but often we come to experience the great Central library building and the user experience that comes with browsing shelves.

    So, to preserve that component, the learning center model has the most attraction to me. Bring on the digital content, but help us *curate* all that volume of material. Help us learn collaboratively in ways we could never do on our own or in virtual spaces.

    And hey – thanks for asking us users. I love my libraries!

  2. Ginny Hansen says:

    Talk of the demise of the paper book really upsets me. Sure it was better when paperbacks were available for 60 cents each (when I was in college), and I am not happy with distributors who upped the avg price (hardbound) to $26 and have rules on where they will stock books (nor with city recyclers who announce that books are bulk paper waste). When I can’t afford to buy even used or deacquisitioned books, my really welcoming Riverview Library lends me my reads, usually about three a week.
    And I could not choose this week’s selections without seeing them on the shelf, because the whole point is discovering authors I’d never heard of before.

    The real problem here is the idea that technology can REPLACE bookshelves. There is something fundamentally different about using an electronic search, or browsing a shelf with books physically on it. My main concern is that, electronically, you need to “know before you go” what you are looking for. That is self-defeating. It’s as when young people go to a grocery store and think that if some foods aren’t stocked, there are no other choices in food but what they see. How impoverishing. By such thinking, heirloom tomatoes almost went the way of the dodo bird. Diversity is as important in reading as in biology.

    When you browse shelves in a library, you allow yourself discovery: books sitting next to what you thought you wanted (though you’d never heard of those next-to books, so you couldn’t have called for them) may contain just what you really want. I attended a lecture once about a four-volume set of works of female philosophers in the ancient world—-“lost” on their library shelves for centuries by the simple expedient of those who didn’t want them circulated “forgetting” to index them in the catalog of available works. Yet the books lived on, on the shelf, waiting to be discovered, and now they were available in print (and in the catalog). For a while. Until the benighted congressional view that books are perishable commodities that need to be shredded.

    In a real bricks-and-shelves library, seekers can also ask a trained human librarian. Though the librarians may not personally have read the resources you want, they know how to find “related ideas” far better than any electronic search engine, and can fine-tune the search on the spot, by feedback. If electronic search-engines do that, they haven’t done so for me, not like real librarians I ask face-to-face.

    Please don’t succumb to the view that we don’t need the book in our hand, on paper. I confess—I am also one who, when I own the book, I “argue with the author” in written marginalia, which passages I can easily relocate later when I’m talking to another person about that book. I lend books, too. It sits there, accusingly, until the borrower reads it.

    I work with people’s writing all the time, and I think writing on a keyboard changes the flow of thought as well. It’s conducive to being concise, when you have to move the pen across the paper—and, that allows you time to think as well. But that’s another story.

  3. Jennifer says:

    In this scenario I wonder how the jobs of people who work in the library might need to change -what kind of staffing would best support this scenario? and are library schools graduating students with the skills to fill this role?

  4. SamLL says:

    Don’t we already have schools, community colleges, various colleges, a university, adult learning classes, etc.?

    The primary role of a library in my mind is to provide information, but almost all of my lifetime library use has been outside the context of a formal educational program; either for pleasure or to satisfy my own unstructured intellectual interests.

  5. Sue Shetka says:

    I cannot envision an adult sitting with a child on their lap reading to the child from any type of electronic device. No a cozy experience. Children need to feel books and turn their pages. Tactile books wouldn’t work on electronic devices.

  6. leon hazare says:

    What the use of the library when the doors are clsoed ST PAUL libraries have limited hours Central library is only open one night per week and open late on Mondays.MPls has 100000 more residents but have fewer branches than St Paul and merge their libraires with the County now they have more hours .ST PAUL has overextended the branches with most only open 2 nights per week
    .it is idiotic to operate too many branches with limited hours when everyone are within 2 miles to a branch,
    The CENTRAL should open until 8pm Mon-Thurs By closing 2 smaller branches hours can be extended
    Daytons bluff and W7th ST both branches are on the buslines that run by the Central library in less than 10mins.

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