In Sunday's Washington Post, high school librarian Thomas Washington opined about "marketing" library books to increasingly disinterested students. From the essay:
Typically, many people in my line of work no longer have the title of librarian. They are called media and information specialists, or sometimes librarian technologists. The buzzword in the trade is "information literacy," a misnomer, because what it is really about is mastering computer skills, not promoting a love of reading and books. These days, librarians measure the quality of returns in data-mining stints. We teach students how to maximize a database search, about successful retrieval rates. What usually gets lost in the scramble is a careful reading of the material.
Students are still checking out the standard research fare -- the Thomas Jefferson biography, the volume of literary criticism on Jane Austen -- but few read it. The library checks the books back in a day later, after the students have extracted the information vitals -- usually an excerpt or two to satisfy the requirement that a certain number of works be cited in their papers...
I recently spoke with a junior who was stressed about her decreasing ability to focus on anything for longer than two minutes or so. I tried to inspire her by talking about the importance of reading as a way to train the brain. I told her that a good reader develops the same powers of concentration that an athlete or a Buddhist would employ in sport or meditation. "A lot out there is conspiring to distract you," I said.
She rolled her eyes. "That's your opinion about books. It doesn't make it true."
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