This week is National Library Week in the United States. Yesterday I visited one of our local public libraries and borrowed a book. Visiting libraries has always been a religious experience for me. I grew up next to the Arcade Free Library. I spent much of my youth there. It was in that library and others that my imagination was piqued. I remember a book whose title I have long since forgotten where a little boy carved a dugout canoe complete with an indigenous person paddling it. He placed it in a creek and miraculously it made its way all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. That story inspired me to try the same. I don’t know if my primitive dugout ever made it to the gulf but I gave it a try.
After retiring from public education nearly eight years ago I started volunteering in our local library. That led to a stint on the board of trustees. Later I became a trustee of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. In the past nearly eight years I have been spending a lot of time in libraries again. I’m enjoying that association with public libraries that began so many years ago. I don’t know how much you read but I’m grateful that my life has been spent in public libraries reading and learning.
I encourage you to visit your local public library this week and borrow a book.
Earlier today I read a tweet from Phil Shapiro that suggested that the massive iPad initiative in Los Angeles Schools was in trouble. I did some “googling” and it does seem that the project is over budget. According to what I read the original estimates of cost per iPad were actually one-hundred dollars less than what the school district actually paid for the iPads. How long will these iPads last and what is the replacement cost? Along with those thoughts are some of my own. I’ve been volunteering in the local library and there they have ten Dell computers which are now five years old. I spoke with the librarian about upgrading them which would cost about $629 each on New York State Contract. Can the Blount Library afford that? Perhaps, but what will become of the units that are being replaced. Can they be refurbished and used elsewhere in the library? Yes, they could be and they might even serve as part of a “maker space.” In one of Phil Shapiro’s tweets yesterday he stated that libraries could become local centers for the “Maker Movement.” This do-it-yourself revolutions which is sweeping across the country is gathering momentum and it’s one more purpose for today’s libraries.
Last night I taught a small group of seniors. They were an attentive lot and they were my first students this fall. The topic was “Beginner Computer Basics.” You may have guessed by now that these seniors were not seventeen and eighteen years olds. A couple were octogenarians. Nonetheless, the oldest student already had a Gmail account which was part of my lesson. We covered the basics and I opened up a Dell Optiplex desktop so that the class could get a good look at the insides of a typical computer. I had some short videos that I put together for them along with a Wikispace that I created especially for our class.
I arrived about fifteen minutes early to ensure that all was set for our class. The oldest student was already there and eager to begin. We began promptly at 6:00 pm and ended ninety minutes later. In the process my students learned some basic terms, got an inside view of a typical desktop computer and learned how to create a Gmail account. We even got started on how to create a document in Google Drive. Thank you to Jessica Frank, Director of Blount Library who asked me to put together some introductory computer classes and to my students. You made my day!