From the Director - March/April 2012
This may sound odd coming from a librarian but when I talk about RCPL, I rarely mention the “b” word. After all, a book is to the library as food is to the grocery store, right? But when I talk about what RCPL is and how we fulfill our mission to inspire, inform and entertain, I tell people that we’re in the learning business, not the book business. And it seems that the business of learning is more critical than ever.
I recently read an article in Fast Company that said the average American has been in their current job less than four years and would have 11 jobs in their lifetime. This is certainly a change from previous generations where it was common to work for one company in the same role for one’s entire career. How do we equip ourselves and our children for a world where flux and change are the standard? Where the rapid pace of change make it difficult to keep skills current, much less know what kind of skills will be needed to be successful in life and in the workforce. It’s no surprise that those that are best equipped to succeed in this new reality have something in common: they love learning and they do it continually.
In addition, research indicates that the 21st Century skills students need to be successful beyond school aren’t skills that are readily acquired in the classroom. As I’ve heard one educator say, there aren’t many careers where our graduates will be expected to fill in multiple choice bubbles with a number two pencil all day. I worry that our students think that learning means knowing enough to pass a test and that what students learn is dictated by standardized testing. I don’t think there are enough opportunities for students to learn critical thinking and problem solving skills or even explore the topics they are truly passionate about.
It’s more important than ever that RCPL be a place where curiosity can be fueled and opportunities to learn abound for all ages. As we celebrate National Library Week (coming up April 8-14) and the role of RCPL in this community, I want to leave you with this quote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” - Alvin Toffler
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