I’m connecting the dots with a couple of stories that have appeared in recent issues of the Morrison County Record.  In this week’s issue (February 24, 2008), there was an article in the Education section on a Swanville student who had to be out of school for surgery.  (I’d link to the story, but it doesn’t appear to have been put online.)  So that he wouldn’t miss much during his recovery, school district staff Cheryl Johnson and Neal Weisz rigged up a webcam in the student’s home that was connected to his classroom.

What a brilliant idea.  And, according to Johnson, one that hasn’t been done in this area before.  Now that the Swanville district has taken the lead and shown the possibilities for home education through technology, perhaps other districts will get on board.  This would have been a simple solution to implementing the 504 plan for Olive Rockfish’s daughter in the Little Falls district.  (See here and here.)

Aside from innovative uses of technology in the classroom, where else might technology transform our usual way of life?  How about that library folks in Pierz would like to see built?

Technology has already seriously affected how libraries operate and you have to look no further than the Carnegie Library in Little Falls to see that it is so.  When I was a kid, you could check books out of the library, or look at magazines in the library, and that was pretty much it.  Now, you have your choice of not only books and magazines, but books on tape or CD, music CDs, movies, and on-site access to the internet.  The Carnegie is a part of the Great River Regional Library system, which has implemented an online book catalog and check-out system.   This means that if you have internet access at home, you can peruse the library catalog at your leisure outside of regular library hours and place holds on items for check-out at your convenience.

The entire production and distribution of all kinds of media has turned topsy-turvy with the internet, which will naturally cause changes in how libraries operate.  As downloadable audio books and e-books become standard, could it be that the space we devote to books in our public libraries will shrink?  That would seem to be an obvious outcome.

I am not privy to the specifics of Pierz’s library plan, but I do hope the building’s planners are taking all of these factors into consideration.  Building a ‘traditional’ library at this point in time doesn’t seem to be the wisest course of action.  Envisioning a futuristic library, one that would meet needs we can only imagine at this point, is what Pierz should be shooting for.  Think what can be done with webcams nowadays.

Fish is brain food, but I’d prefer it if you didn’t look at me in that light,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel

If you’d like a weighty read on book circulation in libraries over time, check out this study done by Douglas A. Galbi.