Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Open Doors to Learning

I love libraries. Before I could read my mom would often take me to our local public library. I would check out my favorite picture books, which usually consisted of various Curious George books. I would take them home, turn the pages, look at the pictures and pretend I could read the words. It established in me a love of books and a desire to read. It also made the library a comfortable place for me to visit.

As I grew older, libraries became a place of learning for me. I wasn't one who would spend hours holed up in the library reading book after book. But if wanted to learn something new, the library was often the first resource I would turn to. I still remember when I was a teenager and first learning how to snow ski. I went to the library to check out a book on skiing and read about the finer points of the snowplow technique, followed by the parallel ski. Anything I wanted to learn about I could find in the library.

Today, the Internet often becomes the first place that people turn to gain new knowledge. That's okay. But we shouldn't let our children grow up thinking that the worldwide web is the only viable resource beyond their textbooks for research and gaining knowledge. Until the day when all the vast physical collections within libraries become digitized, our children need to learn to feel at home within the walls of their local library and practice the valuable skill of cracking open a physical book. Frequent visits to the library with our children will make that happen. Those frequent library visits will also instill within our children a life-long love of reading.

But don't forget that today's libraries aren't just about physical books and references. The ever-growing digital collections that many libraries work to build provide even greater and easier access to extensive reservoirs of knowledge, opening the doors of learning wider than ever before.

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