« Change from the Radical Center of Education | Main | Gone Missing »

Miles’s Library: Annotated

Miles’s Library: Annotated

Doug Johnson doug0077@gmail.com

This is a book chapter from Visionary: Leaders for Information compiled by Dr. Arthur Winzenried from the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, Australia.  You can order the book here.

7:00 AM

“Miles… Miles, honey, time to get up,” the librarian’s voice whispered softly in the still dark bedroom. Miles, a senior in the graduating high school class of 20251, slowly came awake.

“OK, OK, I’m awake, Marian. Schedule, please,” Miles requested using the auditory interface to his school library portal2, accessed through a small device on his nightstand.

“You are meeting with your ecological science team F2F in Learning Space 17, Main Library at 8:45. Carlotta will be 15 minutes late. You’ve registered for “Advanced Semantic Web Searching” with Head Librarian Baxter from 9:30-11:00 in Seminar Room B of the Main Library. Your IEP3 Advisor, Dr. Li, wants to meet with you in her office at 1:00 about your senior project. And I have finalized the MUVE meeting schedule with Professor Shahada in Amman for 4:15 SLT this afternoon. Your lacrosse team practice has been cancelled, but time has been reserved in the simulation area of the gymnasium for team members wanting virtual practice4.”

“Gee, that’s all?”

“No, Miles, dear. Your report on theologian Reinhold Niebuhr is due tomorrow. Would you like me to reserve a video rendering terminal in the library for you?”

“Marian, you are a slave driver!” Miles cried, slowly crawling out of bed.

8:30 AM

“Looks like almost a full day in the library for me,” Miles tells his girlfriend Jennie as they walk from the bus stop up to the school. Jennie is one of the main reasons that Miles still goes to his neighborhood bricks and mortar school at least three days a week.5 “Let’s grab a cup of coffee there while we have time.”

“Seems like you’ve been living in the library this year,” observed Jennie. “They should be charging you rent!”

“Well my senior project, ‘Can sims be programmed to exhibit free will?’ has really been more involving than I thought. I mean, it’s the perfect combination between my interest in religion and computer programming, but it’s been a lot more work than I thought. And the library has been my primary resource for this project.” Miles was embarrassed to admit that his presence in the school’s physical library was only a fraction of the time he spent in the library’s virtual spaces. “Just stamp ‘nerd’ on my forehead, I guess,” Miles sighed.

The library Miles and Jennie enter might look cavernous were it not for the low ceilings and dividers filled with green plants that break up the space into small, intimate work areas. A combination of soft seating and small, easily rearranged worktables in coordinated colors make the library look both work-like but comfortable. There is a low hum of conversation, especially near the entrance to the library where a small coffee shop is located, but noise-cancellation technologies keep the main part of the library surprisingly quiet – considering there are over 200 students working here. The perimeter of the library has doorways leading to small conference and seminar rooms, faculty offices (this location is in high demand), and technology labs filled with powerful, specialized computers. Student work is silently displayed throughout the library space on monitors of various sizes with small signs indicating the channel on which the audio is being broadcast.6

Students and faculty alike carry a variety of small portable computing devices that automatically connect to the data network via the library’s portal interface.7

Miles says goodbye to Jennie and heads toward Learning Space 17 for his meeting with his team.

8:45 AM

“Hey, Juan. Hey, Liz,” Miles says with a wave as he plops down on one of the sofas occupied by his learning team. “Any word from Carlotta?”

“She’s having an emergency with some stuff at home and will be audio conferencing with us8,” Juan reports.

“Sounds like the emergency is a bad hair day.” And with that, Carlotta’s voice says, “I heard that. And just for your information, I never have a bad hair day! But I do have a little sister with the sniffles.”

“OK, OK, I’ve got lots to do today,” Liz chides. “I think at the last meeting we decided that our project was going to be looking at creating self-reporting devices for the green plants here in the library powered by the small voltage they themselves actually produce. Are we still agreed?” Heads nod. (85% of all energy needed to power the school is generated by projects designed by the students themselves over the past 15 years.)

“So, Miles, what did your search on similar projects turn up?”

“Yeah, your creepy Marian avatar dig anything up?” asked Juan. “Do you still have her affection module running so she calls you sweetie, sweetie?”

“She’s not creepy, just 20th century,” Miles replied. “She looks and sounds just like Shirley Jones’s character Marian in The Music Man. If you weren’t such a cultural Neanderthal, you’d appreciate the reference. As for her obvious and well-placed fondness for me, I’d say you’re just jealous9.”

Carlotta laughed, saying, “Miles and Juan, if you weren’t such good friends, I’d say you couldn’t get along.”

Miles is the acknowledged expert at data acquisition in the group. Liz’s strength is in leadership, organization and historical knowledge; Juan’s visual communication and math skills are outstanding; and Carlotta’s interpersonal abilities keep the team moving and working well together – plus she is the acknowledged science whiz of the team. Miles considers each of these fellow students an integral part of his Personal Learning Network.10

Miles himself does not conduct data searches – he programs bots that search for him. Ever since helping his older brother Paul create and modify creatures in the primitive simulation game Spore as a pre-schooler and later learning how to design custom Google Search11 engines in elementary school, Miles has been devising ever more sophisticated programs that help him meet his information needs. The librarians have been instrumental in helping Miles develop these skills, and several thousand other students – and adults - use some of the search bots Miles has created. Lately, he has been giving the bots physical form as avatars and personalities using code from a new bank of 20th century entertainer models.

“Marian found about 750 gig of materials related to using plants’ own electrical production properties to power sensors. I asked her to condense and audio-synth this data to five, ten and 15 minute summaries. I’ve sent the audio files of the three top reports to you. In my view, this project is increasingly doable…”

Encouraged by Miles’s findings, the group discusses next steps, creates a timeline, and debates the format of the final report on the project. Their next meeting on the coming Friday will be virtual, using the library’s video portal.


Miles hurries toward the seminar room on the other side of the library for his class with Librarian Baxter. Cutting around dozens of students working individually or in small groups, Miles glances up at the latest ALA’s LISTEN campaign “poster” being displayed on one of the library’s LED monitors. It features Tammy Fox, daughter of first decade hottie Megan Fox, displaying her favorite audio-book cover. Another LED promotes an ALA PLAY poster showing popular cartoonist Brady Johnson with his favorite video game. (The READ campaign was discontinued in 2020, along with the paper versions of the posters.)

Only one thing seems to be missing in Miles’s school library – books, magazines or any paper information source. The last print books – school yearbooks and some local history publications - were sent to Ghana to be digitized five years earlier. All those materials are now available online.12

Nearly 99.9% of intellectual property in all formats – text, visual, audio, and programming code – is in the world IP DataBank. On submitting work to the DataBank, a small identifying script is inserted into each work. Each time the creation is accessed, a nominal payment is made to its creator. Content users can pay either a flat monthly fee for unlimited access to the DataBank or pay per petabyte of data.13 Miles’s school library does not own or lease any information sources. But it has built, using freeware APIs, a powerful portal and guide to the DataBank.14 And it allows its staff and students to customize that portal.

Miles enters the seminar room just as Mr. Baxter begins to outline the objective of the 90 minute lecture/demonstration/guided practice session on honing one’s understanding of semantic web searching skills15, specifically dealing with language-specific idioms when doing multi-lingual searching with auto-translation tools. About ten students are attending in person and another 15 in library’s MUVE conference room. The virtual participants are not just from Miles’s school, but from other high schools, a university, and a home school. One participant is simply a retiree with an interest in the topic. The seminar will be recorded and added to the DataBank.

“Miles, what are you doing here?” Sergey backchannels using a primitive chat program. “You could be teaching this stuff!”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I heard Baxter just came back from an ALA conference with some beta code on idiom translation. I’m hoping that if I look interested enough, he’ll share.”

Mr. Baxter coughed. “Miles, would you GoogleJockey16 this seminar, just in case questions arise?” Miles nodded and made a mental note to find the etymology of that strange term.


Miles uses the time between the end of the seminar and his meeting with Dr. Li to grab a sandwich in the school cafeteria with Jennie and then take a quick nap in the library. Research on adolescent sleep needs convinced the library advisory committee that napping is a legitimate use of library resources and that library policies should reflect this. After Marian again awakens Miles, he checks his TwitFace account and then listens to two audio reports – one a real-voice podcast and the other a speech-synth conversion – recommended by Mr. Baxter in the earlier seminar.17 He reviews his progress on his senior thesis.

Miles’s school is one of several operating in his small community. It is based on a highly individualized, project-based, collaborative learning model that uses performance assessment only. “Developing creative problem-solvers with a conscience” is the articulated mission of the school. All required classes end when students are twelve and have passed the national reading/writing/math proficiency test. After age 12, each student works according to an IEP, written by the student, his parents, a team of teachers and school librarians, and the other members of his formal Personal Learning Network (PLN).

Another school in Miles’s community is entirely computer-based, with each student using a structured, game-based programmed curriculum designed for his individual educational program. A third school retains the “traditional” classroom, 50-minute period, teacher-led, core content model. Neither of these schools have either physical or virtual libraries or librarians. (Miles first podcast that earned him DataBank payments was a commentary arguing that sending children to traditional schools should be considered child abuse.) All families are given educational vouchers and are allowed to select which school to attend. Vouchers became politically feasible in 2017 when a law was passed that no school can charge more in tuition than the standard voucher amount and that all students, including those with special needs, are eligible for each school’s lottery that selects the incoming class. 18


“I’m very pleased with the progress you’ve been making on your senior project, Miles,” said Dr. Li with a smile. “Explain to me again why you believe that your sims are showing signs of free will.”

“It’s their preferences, Dr. Li!” Miles reports, “Kurzweil, one of my oldest sims, is choosing blue clothing at a rate outside statistical probabilities. In fact, even though he has a choice of several dozen colored garments from which to choose each day, he almost always chooses blue. He also seems to like anchovies on his pizza.”

“And you are sure this is not a programming bug?” asked Dr. Li.

“I’ve gone over the selection routines about 20 times and asked three others in my PLN to do independent audits of the code. Everyone agrees that Kurzweil should be making random choices.”

Dr. Li and Miles confer for nearly an hour, once bringing in Ms King, a Hong Kong librarian who specializes in science fiction in popular culture and its treatment of religious and moral dilemmas. She quickly produces a qualitative list of works in which self-aware technologies are featured.19

“Here’s one last dimension you might want to consider,” suggests Dr. Li. “What might be the meaning of this discovery on how we as humans view ourselves? That we humans may merely be “sims” in a great cosmic programming plan?”20

Miles checks to make sure his audio note-taker21 caught this question, before agreeing that this was a good idea.

“Oh, before you go, I also want to check how the composition of your PLN is working for you. I understand that you did not accept my suggestion of dropping your grandfather’s membership in favor of adding a second programming expert.”

Miles considered his PLN. The school requires that all students have a “formal” personal learning network of twelve members. (Like other students, Miles’s informal PLN has over one hundred members at any one time accessed by a variety of networking tools.) For their formal PLN, some students create expert groups from specialized fields of high interest; others form a group with as diverse a representation as possible. Librarians are a part of nearly every student’s PLN and they take this responsibility seriously.22

“With all respect, Dr. Li, I did keep Grandpa Doug on my PLN rather than choose another expert. I recognize he knows little about my major areas of study and is hopelessly out of date on anything technology related, but because of his advanced age, he sometimes adds a sense of perspective that I don’t get from other students or experts,” Miles maintains. “He’s also good for a joke now and then.”

Dr. Li nods. “Perspective is valuable, I will admit. But I’ve seen his jokes - pathetic!”

Miles thanks Dr. Li, and asks his librarian avatar Marian to send his advisor’s last question out to his PLN for input, thankful his senior year and this project are nearly complete. Miles is looking forward to his first year as a North Dakota State University Bison. His older brother Paul, however, has warned him that his first year of college will tough since many professors still lecture, He advises making sure his PDA has a full battery charge for multitasking during the core courses.


Miles uses the next hour putting the finishing touches on his report on Reinhold Niebuhr that’s due the next day.

Luckily, Marian was able to schedule Miles a full hour of time in the 3-D rendering computer lab.23 This is one of the few individual projects for which Miles is responsible this term so he has chosen to examine his favorite 20th century theologian’s influence on US government policy. After listening to and viewing over eighty hours of materials on the topic, Miles’s final project will be pseudo-discussion with Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Barak Obama, each discussing major Niebuhrian beliefs in relationship to their administration’s social policies.

Miles hopes that this project will be judged to merit inclusion in the school’s student research “virtual museum.” Miles’s older brother Paul holds the record number of pieces of student work in the museum with three projects. Miles’s goal is to get one more of his projects added this spring – giving him four. The permanent addition of student work to the museum is considered an honor.24

Like his fellow students, Miles writes very little, choosing instead to convey his ideas and research using the more natural communication methods of sight and sound. Technology makes it simpler to create audio and video reports than written ones. When a teacher does require a written “paper,” Miles uses a speech-to-text conversion program to create his first draft and then edits that version. Most video and audio reports can be done using his personal computing device, but now and then Miles likes to explore more sophisticated modes of communication like the 3-D rendering software that requires a more powerful processing. The library’s labs supply equipment for this purpose. Miles and his fellow students can write very well; they simply choose to communicate in what they feel are more powerful ways.25

At one point, Miles get stuck on a highly complex task he asks of the rendering program. In answer to an online call, the support librarian pops up in a window in the lower right corner of the screen and efficiently helps Miles over the rough spot. Visual literacy is considered as important, if not more, than textual literacy for Miles and his classmates in this postliterate work environment, educational system and society. Librarians view the communications portion of information fluency models as a critical part of their curriculum.

Satisfied at last, Miles stores his simulation in his digital warehouse along with all other work he has created since he was in elementary school.26  He glances at the clock on his screen and decides that he has time to get home and do his MUVE conference with Dr. Shahada there.

4:00 PM

As Miles walks in the front door, his dad calls out from his home office, “Supper’s at six – I blocked it off on your calendar. Attendance is not optional. Oh, and when is that lawn going to get mowed? The grass gets any longer you’ll not only have to mow, but bale as well.”

Sighing at the hopelessly agrarian reference, Miles acknowledges his dad and heads to the family room. Rather than use the smaller, 54” screen on the computer in his room, he decides to go holographic for his meeting with Dr. Shahada. He grabs a cola from the fridge, gets comfortable in one of the big easy chairs, and opens the connection to the University of Jordan. The family room fades and is replaced by a holographic multiuser virtual environment. Dr. Shahada is already at his desk and Miles finds himself sitting across from him. The image is good enough to read the text on the diplomas displayed on the wall behind the professor’s desk.

Salaam lakim, Doctor,” Miles begins, happy to have a chance to practice his Arabic, a language he has studied both formally and informally for ten years. (The rest of the conversation is conducted in Arabic.) One of the reasons Miles’s parents chose his current school was that its staff recognize that multi-lingual professionals are at an advantage in the global economy.27 In 2015 when Miles chose Arabic as one of his “focus” languages (along with Tagalog), his parents wondered if other languages would have been more beneficial. But the rise in democratic governments and a permanent peace settlement in the Middle East in the 2010s led to the region’s growth as a world economic and educational leader.

“The blessings of Allah upon you as well, Miles,” Dr. Shahada replies with a smile. “I’ve been looking forward to our conversation today. To get to the point, one of the librarians here at UJ spotted some of the avatar-represented search bots you’ve been creating and also noticed your proficiency in Arabic. Our library in collaboration with the computer science department here at UJ would like to offer you a summer internship with us. You would be working with our librarians to improve our own library portal by adding idiomatic Arabic-speaking avatars.”

“It sounds exciting!” remarked Miles. ‘Would I be doing this work in Amman or telecommuting?”28 He and Dr. Shahada continue to discuss this opportunity until nearly six o’clock.

One of Miles’s school library’s major services is to provide and support “learning portals.” While text-based portals have been a common library offering for over ten years, the virtual environment interface is relatively new. When Miles logs on to his library portal, he sees a 3D representation of his physical school library. His avatar moves through it easily, looking far more natural than the funky Second Life-like creations of early MUVEs. He can see which members of his PLN network are online, check for messages (audio, video and text), do real-time video/audio communications with those both in and out of the library, and view his selected and school-required news feeds. Around the library at various stations are librarian avatars with whom Miles can engage. While one sits behind a general information desk, others are subject-specific, offering guidance in languages, science, mathematics, history, communications and other areas. Virtual doorways lead to teacher, advisor and guidance virtual offices and to the school’s virtual museum of permanent student project displays. There is also a doorway to Miles’s “warehouse,” a visual depiction of links to all the projects he has undertaken as a student.29

What makes the portal especially valuable to Miles and others in his school is its customizability. Using open source APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and programming scripts, Mile has re-arranged the standard library layout, deleting some components like the annoying electronic posters and adding features like a real-time Arabic translation avatar, a collection of rare Tagalog documents, doorways to several research labs, and hidden door to a representation of his bedroom at home where he can work on personal tasks.30

It is, however, Miles work in creating custom-search bots represented by avatars that excites him. The library provides a set of tools that allow students to create “librarians” who will follow carefully composed search parameters, following ever more sophisticated semantic rules.

6:00 PM

During his conference with Dr. Shahada, Miles received a message comprised of several ideograms. It was Jennie keying from her phone, asking Miles if he wanted to meet her for a jog. He discretely replied that he was busy, but suggested they meet in the 20th Cent game after supper. After mowing the lawn with a push mower, Miles sits at the kitchen table where his mom, dad and 10-year-old sister Maggie are already engaged in conversation.

Maggie tells about the latest version of Oregon Trail that she and her team are playing in their U.S. history class and about the research she is doing on animal rights of the 19th century; Dad shares his day of F2F pastoral visits to his elderly parishioners and how nice it was to get out from behind a computer screen. But it’s Miles’s mom’s reflections about her day as the town’s public library director that really interest him.

“I am always surprised at just how popular our “Edit Yourself, Market Yourself, Support Yourself” workshops are – even after all these years of holding them. It seems it’s take some people a long time to realize that the DataBank and payment plan changed the model of making money from one’s intellectual property. While many creators choose to contract with editors and marketers – often people who once worked for large publishing companies – even more people have added editing and marketing to their own job skill sets. It’s really gratifying to see the public library as an effective community and personal development resource.”31

While Miles and Maggie visit their public library rarely, they both take advantage of its online presence. Maggie is a part of an active gaming group sponsored by the children’s section and relies on its recommendations of new games. Miles attends the public library’s online seminars and often consults its resident personal branding guru – “Purple Cow” Smith.

“I suppose it’s time to hit the studies,” Miles says after finishing his last bite of dessert.

“Time to talk mushy to Jennie is more like it,” teases Maggie. “And don’t forget, it’s your night to do the dishes.”

7:00 PM

After the last spoon is dried and put away, Miles spends 30 minutes playing virtual lacrosse – the cancellation of his regular athletic practice is making him feel a bit sluggish. He checks his vital stats on the game station after his workout and sends them to his data storage locker in the library.

Back in his room, Miles logs into the MMORPG, 20th Cent. His regular avatar easily moves from one virtual environment to another, quickly morphing when the situation calls for it. Jennie is already online.

“My friend Winslet just finished programming a challenge this afternoon and asked me to beta it.” 20th Cent, like most popular games, relies on users to create quests, puzzles and adventures for each other.32 Both Miles and Jennie prefer “amateur” created content to that designed by self-designated professionals. “Think you can survive the sinking of the Titanic this evening?” Jennie asks. “You know, you look a little like Leo DeCaprio.”

“Let’s try it. If I am going down with the ship, I can’t think of anyone I would rather have with me.”

Jennie’s and Miles’s avatars, now looking like Leo and Kate, teleport to the White Star docks where they board the ill-fated ship – Miles playing steerage, Jennie, first class.

Jennie and Miles are capable readers. Due to an early childhood educational programs, both, in fact, could read before entering kindergarten. But like the majority of their peers, they nearly always choose other media for nearly all their information and entertainment needs. Even video and audio are increasingly less popular than gaming. Miles and his peers demand engagement – not just entertainment – and engagement requires interaction. 33

Games themselves have evolved, becoming an art form and are considered a medium of serious commentary on human nature. The Pulitzer Prize in gaming reflects the respect now paid to the creators of serious games for their plots, characters, settings, tones and themes.34 And games, of course, are an accepted and effective pedagogical tool – especially for elementary students.

It takes Miles and Jennie almost three hours and a dozen attempts before both are rescued before freezing in the icy North Atlantic waters. Jennie notes several anachronisms that Winslet might want to fix before public release of this scenario. Miles gives Jennie a virtual kiss goodnight, logs off the game and heads off to brush his teeth.

10:30 PM

There is a quiet knock on Miles’s bedroom door.

“Hi, Mom. Come in.”

“What are you reading, sweetie?” Miles’s mom asks when she sees him propped up in bed with an actual paper book on resting on his knees. As an avid reader herself, Mom is always a little disheartened by how little her two younger children read for pleasure and is delighted when one actually picks up a book.

“Oh, it an antique paperback called The Diamond Age by a 20th century writer named Stephenson. Pretty interesting how he predicted the OLPC movement that Negroponte and his cult began. Uh, Mom, can we talk a minute?”

“Sure. What’s going on?” Mom asks, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Don’t faint, but I think I might major in library science next year instead of computer programming. Jennie was teasing me this morning about how much time I spend in the library and it got me thinking about how much I do like working there.”

“Well, that is a surprise, Miles! The field and training has changed so much since I got my MLS 25 years ago, and it has really changed since your grandpa got his library degree almost 50 years ago – long before personal computers were commonplace, let alone the Internet,” Miles’s mom observed. “My training seems obsolete, now. Good thing I’m in management where I don’t need many technology skills.”

“You know I talked to Grandpa just now, bouncing this idea off him. He said about the same thing – that the tools and roles of the librarian have changed so dramatically, especially in the last 20 years or so. But then he added something. He said that the tools librarians use change, the importance of certain tasks that librarians perform changes, and even the services libraries offer to support their schools and communities change. But some things, like the librarian’s mission and values, remain constant. Librarians still support intellectual freedom and fight censorship. Librarians are still about open inquiry and access to information and ideas. Librarians are still about helping people find and use information that is reliable and help them use it to improve their lives. And librarians have always been about helping people help themselves by learning how to be life-long learners and informed decision-makers. And Grandma Annie, who was listening in, added that librarians have always wanted people to find enjoyment, fun and excitement in learning and reading.”

Miles’s mom rolled her eyes. “Did Grandpa also go on about how librarians’ people skills, not their technical skills, that are the most important?”

“Yup. But you know he also said that he thought I’d make a great librarian and would be proud to have me in ‘his’ field.”

“Well, that’s your grandfather – always trying to recruit the best and the brightest.”

Miles yawned. “Thanks, Mom. I need to get some sleep. My senior project is one day closer to being due so I need to really get cracking on it tomorrow.”

“Good night, Sweetie.”

As his mom left the room, Miles put down his book, switched off the bedside lamp, and spoke to his avatar,

“Please wake me up at 7, Marian. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Miles, my love.”

“I’ve gotta turn down those affection settings!” Miles thought as he rolled over and closed his eyes.


1. 2025 is the approximate year my youngest grandson, Miles, will graduate from high school assuming children are still attending 13 years of schooling beginning at the age of five or six - a big assumption.

2. Customizable portals are common, although still text based, as of today. iGoogle is a popular example. “Add-on’s” in the Firefox browser also exemplify the extensibility that users are being to require of any information accessing/processing tool.

3. An Individualized Education Plan is required by law for U.S. children having been identified with special needs today. By 2025, these will be required for all students and created with the help of sophisticated assessments and data-mining tools.

4. The Nintendo Wii gaming device currently allows users to participate in simulated sports and exercise.

5. Physical schools will still exist in 2025 since the societal charges placed on education of socialization and child containment will still exist. Inexpensive childcare will continue to be demanded by working parents – even if more are working from home.

6. David Loetscher and others have envisioned a “learning commons” that is user-centered with workspaces for a variety of groups with a variety of purposes. See: Loertscher, Koechlin, and Zwaan. The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win. Salt Lake City, UH: Hi Willow, 2008.

7. Today’s netbooks and smartphones using 802.11x and EVDO wireless networks are early versions of those being used by Miles and his contemporaries.

8. Built in laptop cameras and microphones along with simple programs like Skype are already making video conferencing commonplace in schools. The trend of more ubiquitous cameras and microphones, simple conferencing tools, and greater broadband connectivity will continue to grow.

9. Customizability in both ability and appearance are common in both MUVE (MutliUser Virtual Environments) such as SecondLife and MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer On-line Role-Paying Games) such as World of Warcraft avatars today.

10, Collaboration and group work skills are a part of every set of “21st Century Skills” being promoted.

11. Customized search engines can be built now using Google Custom Search.

12. Full text searching of over seven million books is currently available as part of Google’s Search the Book project. Google has reached an agreement with publishers to scan and make available not just out of copyright titles, but out of print titles.

13. Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig in his book Free Culture (New York: Penguin, 2004) advances the idea of such a compensation scheme for intellectual property creators, based on redistributing the proceeds from a tax on recording media to compensate musicians and videographers.

14. Subscription services to full text magazine indexes, video collections and e-book collections have been common since the 1990s.

15. The semantic web, a means of describing data on the Internet in ways that make it more easily searched by discriminating among homonyms and other word meaning discrimination techniques. Tim Berners-Lee, Hendler, James and Lassila, Ora “The Semantic Web”. Scientific American Magazine. May 17, 2001.

16. Assigning a class Google Jockey is a current practice in higher education. See EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative “7 Things You Should Know About Google Jockeying,” May 2006.

17. Miles’s library serves the “postliterate.” Any number of recent studies are concluding that reading is declining – primarily the reading of novels and longer works of nonfiction.. I define the postliterate as those who can read, but choose to meet their primary information and recreational needs through audio, video, graphics and gaming media. Print for the postliterate is relegated to brief personal messages, short informational needs, and other functional, highly pragmatic uses such as instructions, signage and time-management device entries – each often highly supplemented by graphics. The postliterate’s need for extended works or larger amounts of information is met through visual and/or auditory formats.

The term “postliterate library” may at first glance appear an oxymoron, but it is not. Our best libraries are already postliterate, increasingly meeting the needs of users who communicate, play and learn using media other than print. And the attitudes we as professional librarians adopt toward the postliterate may well determine whether our libraries continue to exist.

My article, “Libraries for a Postliterate Society” Multimedia & Internet @ Schools, July/August 2009, further describes these ideas.

18. The societal demand for school “choice” has led to many different options beyond the traditional public school in the United States. Private schools, parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, on-line schools, open-enrollment – with a demand for government tuition vouchers controlled by parents – are all examples of the diversification of education. The reality is that not every type of school needs a library, even today.

19. The exponential growth of information will require the specialization of librarians into areas of interest.

20. Ray Kurzweil in his book The Singularity is Near (New York: Viking, 2005) suggests this explanation - that we are all part of some cosmic simulation game, for human existence.

21. A growing body of academic research shows that students who record instructions and classroom lectures get better grades, justifying personal mp3 player/recorders in schools.

22. Personal Learning Networks, a self-created set of experts, colleagues and resources that can be relied upon to meet daily learning needs, usually dependent on networked technology, are currently being explored by educators.

23. Despite the ubiquity of personal computing devices, cutting edge applications will continue to need very large processing capabilities, unaffordable by individuals, and therefore housed in the library.

24. Educators have long known that the larger the audience for a student’s work, the greater the level of concern by the student about the quality of the work. Permanent collections of student work, organized and managed by the library, should become a part of the school culture and contribution to the world’s knowledge base.

25. Education and librarianship have a current bias toward print. This communication/ information format has served civilization well for several millennia. Most professionals today demonstrate high levels of proficiency in print literacy skills and they can be expected to defend the necessity of such skills. Most educators are competent readers, writers and print analysts, but neophyte video, audio and graphic producers, consumers, and critics. It is human nature to be dismissive of those competencies that we ourselves lack. However, postliteracy is a return to more natural forms of multi-sensory communication - speaking, storytelling, dialogue, debate, and dramatization. It is just now that these modes can be captured and stored digitally as easily as writing. Information, emotion and persuasion may be even more powerfully conveyed in multi-media formats. In Miles’s school the bias toward print will fade as new generations of media-savvy educators take charge.

26. Comprehensive portfolios, managed with the help of librarians, will be under life-long development by all workers of the “creative class.” Cheap mass storage of materials in digital formats will allow creators to keep all work and never delete a project or file.

27. Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2006) described a world economy and argued that cultural understanding would play an increasing role in successful business.

28. The continuing increase in fuel costs has led to a growing percentage of home-based workers. Home based work has led to a greater need for “dispositions” as outlined in AASL’s Skills for the 21st Century Learner (Chicago: American Library Association, 2007).

29. An online presence has been of growing importance since the 1990s for all institutions, including libraries. The MUVE 3-D environment has been predicted to became the standard interface for web navigation.

30. One of the reasons for the popularity of today’s Firefox browser is its extensibility. By using “add-ons,” one can customize the tool to meet one’s personal style of working. The expectation of extensibility will continue to grow.

31. Lulu.com and other self-publishing sites are changing the relationship of professional editors and markets and writers.

32. The MUVE SecondLife is a model of an environment that is almost completely user-generated; the MMORPG World of Warcraft (modeled after the earlier analog Dungeons and Dragons game) relies on user-generated “quests.”

33. The “Net” Generation is spending more time in front of screens but less watching television - demanding entertainment be interactive rather than passive.

34. The library helps its patrons discover and understand this still relatively new medium, offering game discussion groups, organizing game fan clubs, and arranging game developer talks and seminars.

Posted on Monday, August 9, 2010 at 06:21AM by Registered CommenterDoug Johnson | Comments2 Comments

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (2)

I agree with you, Doug. If we want to know where we are going, we need to have a vision (however blurry) of where we want to go. If we don't have a destination, how can we map the journey? If we don't begin with the end in mind, how do we know our steps are in the right direction? (to paraphrase Stephen Covey). Even though the destination may ultimately change, we need to start towards it with confidence, expecting that we will get there but accepting that it may not look like that which we expected.

We need the visionaries, like those in this book, and others I know like Mal Lee, who can see over hills and around corners and can pose the possibilities. Then, knowing what the possibilities could be, we also need a personal plan to make what we want to achieve, happen. Years ago, I remember Tom Sergiovanni telling us that your mission statement is just the beginning of your plan, not its endpoint. If this is what you want to achieve, then you have to articulate why, when, who and how and then ensure that all your decisions both reflect and support your goals. As well as professional knowledge, practice and commitment, you need to have a plan that includes purpose, promises, priorities, strategies, support, timeframe, accountability and celebration, even if you are only the tour guide for a small part of the journey.

If advocacy of what we offer was all it took to change perceptions and perspectives, we wouldn't still be having this conversation 25 years on from when the major changes started to emerge. (It was 1988 when, as a classroom-based teacher, I was first introduced to information literacy and collaborative planning and teaching,) Advocacy, particularly evidence-based practice (in the form of more than just test scores) is still a vital component, but it is having a vision of what could and can be and working towards that, in conjunction with the key stakeholders - pupils, peers, principals, parents and politicians - so all have an investment in and ownership of the changes, that will drive the profession forward and deliver Miles what it is that he needs and expects.

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Braxton

Thanks, Barbara.

Now to get the rest of the profession thinking along these line!

(I see Walter's books shows as out-of-print here in the US on Amazon. Do you know its status in Oz?



December 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>