Monday, July 01, 2013


Twenty five years ago, Robert Fulghum published a popular collection of essays called, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (Check it out or buy it.) It was on the New York "Best Sellers" list for two years. The 15th edition is still in print and a 25th edition is expected to be released this year. A poster listing these simple rules for human behavior can still be seen hanging around.

Two of my favorites:
"Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you."
"Take a nap every afternoon."

Last month I attended the Conference at Biola University. In one of the sessions, "Beyond Trends: Web 4.0 and the Future of Learning," Georgia Joseph of the technology firm, Five Q, made a simple and startling statement.

This year's kindergarteners will have never lived in a world without smartphones.

I try to be forward thinking, although I still fear drinking the Twitter Kool-aid. As a former cataloger, trained in the use of controlled vocabulary (i.e., Library of Congress Subject Headings) I fear #mistagging. I keep my eye on what the high school age population is doing to be prepared for their learning preferences when they reach college - always looking four years into the future. But what about thirteen years from now when the current crop of kindergarteners show up for new student orientation? Can we really anticipate what educational and communication technologies or information retrieval and research methods will be appropriate? Probably not.

To make matters worse for us would-be futurists, the following week, Willam Badke (whom I referenced in last week's Musing) added salt to that wound by pointing out that our May 2014 graduating class were introduced to a very different library as freshmen.

Hope doesn't even have the same catalog as we did when they began their college careers in Freshman English four years ago. In fact, we don't technically have a catalog anymore. WorldCat Local is considered a "discovery tool" which searches for books (both print and electronic) as well as research databases all at once. And although we had ATLA Religion Databases back then, it's now on a different interface with different search options (we now can easily search by scripture reference).

Can we assume that they are fully prepared for the level of research expected of them this year?

A major goal of the Darling Library is
to promote "information competence" in all students, so that as graduates they are skilled in retrieving information for most of their needs, and committed to life-long refinement of their information access skills.

How can we hope to fulfill that goal?

Just as Fulghum asserted that kindergarten lessons continue to be good rules to live by, Joseph assured us that there some "timeless truths" that are common throughout many generations. If we focus on those principles that are not likely to change, develop critical thinking practices that transcend technical skills, and remember that we seek more than information (i.e., knowledge and wisdom), then perhaps we can inspire a commitment to life-long learning.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ Robin Hartman is Director of Library Services at Hope International University. She is curious about how the organization and communication of information shapes society and is committed to equipping students to impact the world for Christ.

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