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What Technology Is Doing to Libraries.....And Your Brain
So your English teacher just dropped the biggest bomb since Japan on you and your unsuspecting classmates. You've been assinged a 20 page paper on the rise and fall of Aztec Empire and it's due on MONDAY. It's Friday and your mind jumps into overdrive. You're thinking websites and wikis and sleepless nights when your teacher says something else. Your barely catch it so you know that it can't be true. But you ask her and it is.
"I want this paper to be as accurate as possible. That means NO INTERNET ALLOWED dring research." Your heart stops. What she has just said is impossible. "What am I supposed to do?" you cry. "Read an actual book?!? Where do I find one of those???"
I meant that intro to be funny, but to me its dead serious. How many times have you used a computer for homework in the last month? My guess is a ton. Let's face it, our society has latched onto technology with no dismount in sight. It's totally for the best right? I mean, the internet is fast, fun and super easy. But just what is it doing to our brains, and our ability to learn? And what about libraries? With all the tech hungry kids out there, who would rather us a Wikipedia than a Britannica, where have the libraries gone?
I can totally say from experience that the internet affects the way I do research. My teacher assigns me a report on Booker T. Washington, for example. Before computers this report might have taken me a week. I can't drive, so first I would have to wait for a ride to the library. Then there's finding the right books. This normally takes a few minutes, but lets say the perfect and expansive guide to Booker T. is out right now. There's waiting for that. Once I finally have my hands on the book, I have to read it. Theres 2 days. Then I write my outline and rough drafts and a final copy. A hard, long, time consuming process (remember this is handwritten).
Compare that to now. It might take me 45 minutes altogether. All I have to do is search his name into the magic google bar and I have 2,490,000 results in 0.19 seconds. Come on, this is cake.
The first method taught me patience, and good handwriting. My teacher will be able to tell that I took my time. I also had face to face time with librarians who really helped me out and gave me suggestions. With method two I expected to be done fast. Every small technical difficulty got under my skin and I ended the 45 minutes with a 1/4 original 3/4 copy pasted report that might get me a B. This is reality and normal for students everywhere. We are ready to be done. We don't care about the detail, just get us done so we can watch Jersey Shore.
I don't find this acceptable. But whatever, you say, I can deal with irritablility. Fine. But what about the little people? What about librarians?
I can tell you this, the internet has changed my local library. You see it as soon as you walk in the door. A "Please Donate to help us buy books"
box slaps you right in the face. I can't help but think every time I see that sign. "If more people came here we would get more funding. More books." Then you walk a little farther. Every computer table full. A line at each. How many people do you see reading, or researching, talking or asking questions? Zero, thats how many.
I am not telling you to give up your internet. I am not even asking you to read more. Just examine the facts. Examine yourself. Do you rush through a project without a care? Or did you learn about Booker T. Washington be reading, copying, recopying and providing care. Are your blood sweat and tears in your report? Have you hugged your libarian today?