It’s been five years since I left public education and in that time I’ve realized how much I like my life as a part time writer in an open source community. I had been looking for a research job in my final years in public education. When it all ended I thought I’d never get a chance to do that. Now, however I get ample chances to research and write. I’m learning how to be a better writer and I’m surrounded by amazing people.
Besides writing I’ve been volunteering a lot in public libraries. Locally at Blount Library and regionally with the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. I grew up next to a public library and in those pre-Internet days spent my free time there reading books and learning. Now, over fifty years later I have returned to those roots.
In addition to writing and volunteering at the library I still get chances to teach. Next month I’m going to be teaching adult students how to setup and use Raspberry Pi computers. I haven’t finished planning what I’m going to teach yet but I’m excited nonetheless for the opportunity.
Last week on Thursday I had business at the Prendergast Library in Jamestown, New York. I was there for a meeting and after a fifty-mile ride I stopped in the library’s lavatory to refresh myself. While I was there a fellow came into the same space and he looked unkempt, smelled like he hadn’t had a bath in a while and took some half-gallon plastic containers our of his knapsack and filled them in the sink. Here was a homeless person, the likes of which most of us don’t see but who do exist in our midst. I felt uncomfortable but what could I do to help this guy. I realized then the library was more than a place to fill your mind with information but it could also be a place to fill your canteen as it were with water. I wondered too, how many others like this fellow come to the library daily or weekly to fill up their jugs too. I’m glad the library can be a point of nurture for this guy.
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.