FCC vs. the Library? Maybe not so much…

My, my is Libraryland in a tizzy. I’m not going to go over the whole thing again here, especially since Andy Woodworth over at Agnostic, Maybe already did a great run-down (Go here, it’s homework for this post). A quick summary, there was an article in the NY Times where the FCC said it wanted to create a “Digital Corps” to teach computer skills, followed by blog posts from school librarians afraid that their role would be usurped followed by the ALA saying “No, no, it’s ok, we’re working with the FCC.” Followed by more blog posts. (It’s a mess, but Andy did a great summing up. Seriously, go check it out.)

So here are my thoughts:

1) Why is anyone surprised that just handing people technology resulted in them finding games and wasting time? A computer isn’t magic and people love games. Of course the kids figured out how to play the games first. Games are fun and homework is homework. This actually just makes them more like the other kids entering college. You know, the ones who can upload anything to Facebook, but don’t do much of anything else online. It’s like TV, we all know we should watch Nova, but we all end up watching the Kardashians.
2) I’m really glad to hear that the Digital Corps includes money to use the existing library (and other public) spaces, and this may even include upgrades. Before I got caught up, I was actually going to suggest that some of this money could go into grants that we could apply for. So yay!
3) I love Andy’s idea of using some of our unemployed and underemployed MLIS holders in this Digital Corps. These are EXACTLY the sort of people this program is looking for. Library programs train their students in how to explain things to people in language they can understand. It’s important that the makers of this new cadre of technical know-it-alls remember that they want experts who can teach, not just people who know a lot about computers.
4) Finally, I want all of the superintendents and legislators and candidates to read all of the angry blog posts by the school librarians. These are amazing people who have been abused in the past few years, which is why I think they all lashed out so quickly. I mean, some of them were literally put on trial a couple of years ago. The problem at the root of this debate (you can’t hand people technology and expect magic) shows how much we need them. Let’s give them the respect the deserve.


Emily Thompson is the host of EdReach’s show LiTTech, a show for the innovative librarian. LiTTech highlights the innovative news, gadgets, and resources for the literary educator. You can follow her on Twitter @librarianofdoom.

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