What is the role of libraries in today's world? It used to be very straight forward. To promote reading. Get people to come in to the library to build up their reading skills. Hence, ensuring that people are literate.
lit·er·a·cy [ líttərəssee, líttrəssee ]
1. ability to read and write: the ability to read and write to a competent level
2. skill in particular subject: knowledge of or training in a particular subject or area of activity.
Singapore's got a literacy rate of 94.2% for residents over 15 yrs old. Should the library continue on its literacy campaign or evolve? Given that our National Library's vision and mission is one that expands the learning capacity of the nation so as to enhance national competitiveness and to promote a gracious society as well as to help in creating enlightened individuals who can compete confidently in all sectors. Is knowing how to read enough for that?
Seems that it is not. Is the library becoming an education institution? Can it become a learning centre?
ed·u·ca·tion [ èjjə káyshn ] (plural ed·u·ca·tions)
1. educating: the imparting and acquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning, especially at a school or similar institution
2. knowledge: the knowledge or abilities gained through being educated
3. instruction: training and instruction in a particular subject, for example, health matters
Not only the library is promoting reading ti its users, it now has a additional role of teaching and ensuring users how to go about searching and gathering information. Would this fulfill the mission of the library? And that's not enough. Seems that librarians must also teach users on how to be anaylse and critic the information was collected. Know where and how the information is from, how it can be manipulated, what kind of message it is converying, is there 2 sides to a story...etc?
Effectively, it's teaching people how to think. It is a big job to undertake. Would libraries have to take up this role in order to support NLB's mission and vision? What kind of commitment would be need from the library users as well as the librarians?