As I’m sure many have seen, this story is floating around the news-o-sphere which indicates that American adults lag behind countries like Japan, Finland, the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden in terms of literacy, math skills, and computer skills. A truly sad record of the state of education in this country, this should be a call to action for all educators (administrators, classroom teachers, and such). But what role should librarians play in solving this issue? Clearly, depending on your institutional type and individual role, issues of literacy and math might not be within your purview. But certainly technological skill sets are a part of every library, regardless of focus. So, maybe these are some ways in which we can help promote American education:
- Recognize that information technologies are an unavoidable element of learning and professional performance (and try to convince others of same)
- Promote life-long learning through face-to-face training tutorials, free online asynchronous training resources for everything from basic math to advanced computing
- Build relationships with social welfare organizations in order to adequately assess the need of under-served segments of society and work collaboratively to provide the needed services, training, materials, etc.
- Advocate for education reform and for the increased presence of librarians in classrooms K-12. Not only can librarians promote information literacy (a huge part of continued technical and informational proficiency), but they can also help to identify information needs and locate much-needed resources for teachers and students that do not have the time or motivation to seek it out themselves
- Advocate for the increased presence of librarians in all professional capacities. Embedded librarians in professional organizations can help to identify gaps in professional competencies and can provide access to helpful resources that will educate individuals on needed skills, benefiting both the individual and the business for which he/she works
Of course, these are just speculations. Regardless, the findings of the above mentioned story should be a call to action for every professional. Considering our role as librarians, we are positioned to provide help in many different capacities. What form it will ultimately take is unforeseeable, but we can bring our knowledge and skills to the issue to hopefully benefit our patrons, our institutions, and our country.
A good video about the college education in America.