The education system in the United States is less than stellar (yet another article came out today, detailing U.S. academic failures in relation to other economically comparable countries--bonus: this one features charts!). But this depressing truth may have sparked an opportunity in an institution that's desperately clinging to stay relevant: libraries. Libraries have started marketing their establishments not only as community resource areas but learning centers. This new "flashy" term is being used more and more, with some libraries even changing their name to reflect a more education-centered title. We see it in our library here at TC (Edlab!), throughout Queens and Brooklyn public branches, and across the country.
I think, inherently, we have always viewed libraries as a place of learning and information. But calling a library a “learning center” paints a slightly different picture in my mind. What, exactly, does this change in nomenclature signify? Are libraries attempting to fill in where the education system is lacking? Or usurp schools altogether? I think, or at least what I hope, it signifies is a move toward more fully incorporating libraries into the school system.
Back in June, LibraryJournal awarded the Howard County Library System in Maryland the "Library of the Year" award for their outstanding commitment to community service and education. Their motto is "We are education!" and they pride themselves on being a central component to "very strong public education system" in Howard County. This “learning center” is one of the pioneers in school and public library partnerships, and it has seen great success since its inception in 2002.
Linking the library system to the education system and advocating it as a central component to success in the classroom is certainly worth exploring. Perhaps this is one step toward making our classrooms stronger and ensuring libraries will remain fundamental resources in our communities.