We probably need a Forum devoted to this topic alone.
But here's a couple of ideas:
Frequently updated wall posters. A library could be adorned with frequently updated eye catching ( to some extent, this is not Madison avenue advertising ) posters about books: books of quality - of special merit for some reason and new books.
Most interesting is the 'books of quality' or merit. Because this means to keep the public informed of recent releases in specific areas, fields of study, disciplines - so that when progress is made in a discipline and a good book written about it we come to know of it.
Whether or not it is available at that library. Or any library.
That is to say: a library could see as one of its functions not merely to be a repository of literature but to be a repository of information regarding the current state of literature and to be an educator in this respect, an informer, an illuminator.
A library could obtain 'reading lists' for as many University Courses as possible and make them available. Again, whether or not the books on that list are available in that library or even that State or Country. The point these days is seen more and more clearly that we should all be educated, that all are capable of absorbing education and that education should be free - and, lastly, that it is in fact rapidly becoming free and freely available with the spread of the internet.
Libraries could lend their weight to this dynamic, collect the information and make it readily available.
This is, in fact, to reorder traditional education which is still slowly coming out of the preserve of the privileged and the priestly, so to speak. Out of the grasp of those who jealously kept it to themselves and ordained what should be learned and how and claimed only they had the right to do this.
So that generations of people of all races, millions of people, who could have learned many things were kept in ignorance because of State collusion in this attitude of 'priestly' right to serve up education.
University courses are in fact made up of units almost randomly chosen. Courses are devised ad hoc and at the spur of an economically rational moment - or politically driven moment. Devised by compiling a list of such 'units' from currently 'available' units.
And those Units are learned principally by the student reading the reading list for that Unit and doing the set work.
'Available' meaning units currently on offer because teachers are available, because there promises to be sufficient class numbers to cover the cost of that teacher, because allied materials necessary for the unit are available. Such factors as these.
Each unit gives the student so many 'points' and Degrees are in the end awarded because the student has gained sufficient 'points'.
Units can be cobbled onto a course simply because it adds the required number of points in that semester or in that year.
Any one of those units can sometimes be seen as irrelevant to the education the student is seeking, or be seen as insufficiently well put together or be completely in error in its teachings or incomplete in its understanding of its subject - out of date perhaps. Or it may have a poor reading list. It is not uncommon for the required reading to be complained about by the students and modified, altered, changed to a different book or list of books, during the semester.
The collection of units making up a course of education leading to a 'degree' is not something cast in stone and handed down by god. It is very mundane and human thing as can be seen.
And that mundane and human thing boils down to simply a reading list. And tasks set to enable the student to demonstrate a command of the learned material from those reading lists.
There's your University education. There's very little tuition. A University is not a school. They don't teach you.
All education is self-education in the end. You can put the information before a child or a person but you can't make them absorb it.
And conversely you can't prevent the motivated finding some way to learn what they want to know about.
Universities put the information before the students and offer different levels of guidance, assistance, to the students as they go about absorbing it.
Hence the clear importance of the reading list. The paramount importance of the reading list.
Hence the value libraries could contribute to their society by publishing these lists, past, current, proposed, local, national, international.
Libraries could monitor the flow of information in the world.
It is perhaps often forgotten that libraries are repositories of fact as well as fiction. We seem to have a world devoted entirely to frivolous pastimes. To novels and movies and t.v. serials. To actors, pop musicians, singers. Crowd pleasing frivolities for a large part. Amusements. Pastimes.
That's what our world looks like at first glance. Anywhere you look.
But that's only on the surface. Actually we have a world of deep and wide and growing scientific endeavour. A massive amount of rational, careful, deliberate scientific work is going on everywhere. Allied with a massive amount of careful, intelligent technological growth which transmutes that scientific work into practical realities.
Our frivolous pastimes are brought to us on platforms only recently devised and the product of all this careful scientific and technological work. It is all there under the surface.
And it grows faster than ever before as education spreads and the computer spreads and information is made more readily available and more people take part in the endeavour.
So there's a massive amount of scientific and technological material current and currently growing at a great rate.
What is it? Where is it? Which places and people in the world are producing all this? Where are these repositories of new knowledge? How can they be accessed? Where is the data?
Similarly there's a robust growth in political thought, societal investigation and understanding - even religious thought and understanding.
There's data being produced in the world at a rate far exceeding anything ever seen previously.
It is a manifestation of an awakening, thinking world. An awakening, thinking world that is one world, becoming one world, for the first time in history.
Free of the constraints of their masters (for the most part) and free of the physical constraints of distance and transport, the people of the world can now communicate immediately with each other, know each other, learn from each other, plan with each other. Effectively be together in one 'mass mind', one vast collective of people, one enormous hubbub....
What libraries could do is provide an overview of this new phenomenon. Monitor it. Tell us what is happening.
What is the mass mind talking about?
What is it discovering? Where are the new centres of learning growing?
Something like that.
Post about favourite libraries, famous libraries, libraries in history.... talk about libraries generally..
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