Tuesday, May 13, 2008

$35 million For Peoria Public Libraries!!

If the City Council votes to give the Library Board any part of $35 million they are begging for, this community will be taking another step to drive property tax payers out of the City.

A new book by Mark Bauerlein titled "The Dumbest Generation" and summarized in the WSJ Bookshelf by David Robinson, associate director of Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy, states that "ageing baby boomer parents, rather than passing down a fixed, canonical culture to their kids, encourage a modern-day version of their own rebellion, inviting younger voices to disrupt stodgy cultured communities".

Bauerlein writes, "The present is a good time to be young only if you don't mind a tendency to empty-headiness. Cultural and technological forces, far from opening up an exciting new world of learning and thinking, have conspired to create pubic ignorance so high as to threaten our democracy.

Adults are so busy imaging the ways that technology can improve classroom learning or improve the public debate that they have blinded themselves to the collective "dumbing down" that is actually taking place. The kids are using their technological advantage to immerse themselves in a trivial, solipsistic, distracting online world at the expense of more enriching activities-like opening a book or writing a complete sentence.

The printed word has paid a price-from 1981 to 2003, the leisure reading of 15-17 year-olds fell to 7 minutes a day from 18. The real action has been in multi-tasking. By 2003, children were cramming an average of 8 1/2 hours of media consumption a day into just 6 1/2 hours-while watching TV while surfing the web, reading while listening to music, composing text messages while watching a movie.

This daily binge isn't making kids smarter. The NEAP has pegged 46% of 12th graders below the basic level of proficiency In science, while only 2% are qualified as advanced. In the political arena-participatory Web sites may give young people a "voice" but their command of the facts is shaky. 46% of high school seniors say its "very important to be an active and informed citizen" but only 26% are rated as proficient in civics.

Between 1992 and 2005, the NAEP reported that 12th grade reading skills dropped dramatically, only 24% of 12th graders are 'capable of composing organized, coherent prose in clear language with correct spelling and grammar"

In summing up this book review, Mr. Robinson says "the children of future years will learn from their elders how to make the most of digital life just as soon as there are elders in place to offer instruction. The "elders" now don't seem to have a clue.'"

"Students may not open many books but they know how to text message while watching TV. If you believe the people who are using computers in our public libraries are using library tools to assist them, you haven't been paying attention".

They are not. Go see for yourselves.

The computer system crashed again over the weekend and books cannot be put on the shelf as they cannot check them in as they are returned by the user. The system was down for over four months recently. The libraries in Peoria just started checking books out electronically this year while other libraries in the area have been doing electronic check for years and years. You don't need new buildings to properly run a system. Peoria Public Libraries have been poorly run even while departed Sue Herring was Librarian.

All good people though, but so was my mother who I would not have wanted to run a library. People associated with librarians love books and would never discard one unless they were commanded to. We have at least a million books in the community that haven't been read for years including thousands in our public school system.


Anonymous said...

People used to say much the same about ragtime music when it came out in the 1890's.

Damn these kids today!

David said...

The dumbest generation? It's more like one of your earlier posters stated, "the worst generation". What do you expect from a generation that says an 8yr old is ADD and wants to give him ritalin or essentially "speed" to calm the 8yr old down? Maybe they all read that jerk Bill Ayers.

C. J. Summers said...

I know I'll be branded a Luddite for saying this, but I hate the on-line card catalog being the *only* way to look up books in the library. I love being able to look up books via the Internet and all that, but when you put all your eggs in the computer basket, you run into a situation like I ran into the other day: The card catalog database was down, so you couldn't look up books to see if they were available or checked out. The librarians had to rely on their knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System to direct you to the general area where the book might be.

Never had that problem with the old manual card catalog. Never had to wait in line to use it, either.