Editorial: Libraries of the future

THE recent launching of the e-Library at Barangay Gun-ob in Lapu-Lapu City was a highlight in Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan’s first State of the Children Report last Nov. 4.

With corporate and civic partners, the Lapu-Lapu City Government opened last Oct. 9 the facility intended to enable students to connect for free to the Wi-Fi and print their assignments.

This project, which will be replicated in the city, is part of the Chan administration’s plan to create educational opportunities for local youths, such as the opening of a call center academy for senior high school students unable to pursue college but interested to work in the industry and the upgrading of the Lapu-Lapu City College into a state college, Greggy C. Magdadaro and Mildred V. Galarpe reported in SunStar Cebu last Nov. 4.

The Chan administration’s priority for education augurs well for Lapu-Lapu City’s youth. To optimize the opportunities in digital sphere, the e-Library at Gun-ob must be expanded to become a genuine learning commons.

From the repository of documentation that a library was in 2600 BCE, the 21st century has seen the evolution of the modern library into a learning commons, also known as a scholars’ commons, information commons or digital commons.

The term applies to a classroom, library or any shared space where the members benefit from “information technology, remote or online education, tutoring, collaboration, content creation, meetings, socialization... and studying,” according to Internet sources.

To become a “library of the future” and a “hands-on learning laboratory,” the learning commons need to be “reimagine(d)... as open, transparent spaces that invite student communication and collaboration,” observed Beth Holland in a Jan. 14, 2015 article posted on edutopia.org, the website of the George Lucas Foundation.

The Gun-ob e-Library staff need to train and discuss to come up with a vision of the facility’s role in the community, as well as plan to implement such vision.

As reported, the Gun-ob e-Library gives each student a maximum of two hours to use any of the 20 donated computers for researching and printing school assignments. Students may bring their own gadgets to connect to the free Wi-Fi.

For those who cannot afford a personal computer and printer of their own or access to a Wi-Fi, the e-Library is the portal to a wealth of digital resources, such as Project Gutenberg’s more than 100,000 public domain works uploaded on the digital platform and over 30 million books scanned and made available by Google in its library project.

However, the two hours allotted to a student are insufficient without a teacher or mentor guiding the research process. While the young are digital natives, more able and skilled than their elders in exploring and uncovering the resources on the digital platform, the academic use of the Internet is rooted in the traditional disciplines of reading, writing, and processing of information and meaning from legacy materials in print, audio, and video forms.

Teachers note that even among youths privileged to have unlimited access to the digital sphere, it is imperative to inculcate and reiterate standards and ethics concerning the use of information, referencing, attribution, respect of intellectual property, and the practice of academic honesty.

The community, particularly higher learning institutions and academic foundations, should sustain the e-Library project in Lapu-Lapu City by providing support through lectures, workshops, and other interactions orienting and training teachers, students, and the e-Library staff on digital learning, research, collaboration, and others that relate to community needs.

In time, the e-Library at Gun-ob and similar initiatives can be opened to other members of the community, such as out-of-school youth, the elderly, disabled, and all citizens interested to connect, collaborate, and fully attain aspirations and opportunities for development.