Kids at your Library:
Everyone's Access to the Future
Computer literacy will be an essential attribute of the work force of the 21st century. A recent Michigan State survey of 525 businesses, industries and governmental agencies found that young persons without computer skills need not apply for new service sector jobs. To fill the need for computer knowledge, many libraries have held computer classes for children and adults. Many libraries are expanding their resources to include services designed to develop children's keyboarding skills and other computer familiarity. The Anadarko Community Library currently has dedicated four computers to CD-ROM educational software, with more on the way. Christina Owen, Anadarko's director, says that computers are playing a larger role throughout the library. The library will soon have a total of fifteen computers with the majority configured for Internet exploration. Access to the Internet means access to the world, and librarians can help families find friendly sites that will help children grow.
On the Road To Reading
A classic outreach tool is the venerable bookmobile. Dee Ann Ray reports that the Western Plains Library System always has at least one bookmobile on the road. The daily trips eventually cover a 4,200 square mile area, with the longest being 160 miles round-trip. In rural areas, the bookmobile is the main library for some children. Typically, more than 50% of the stock of a bookmobile is children's books. Some schools use bookmobiles to augment school libraries. Ms. Ray remembers one particularly heavy user who recently won the Truman fellowship of the Oklahoma State University business school. Students use bookmobiles to research term papers, and this year the Burns Flat school won the state History Day contest doing their work through bookmobiles.
As with the bookmobiles of Western Plains, public libraries have long worked closely with local schools. Today, libraries across the state are likely to coordinate their shelving decisions according to classroom project plans. Students are taught how to use a library and encouraged to stop by often. The Tulsa City-County Library promotes student research with a free seminar on how to create a winning science project. Using local teachers as well as librarians as speakers, topics cover all the steps in a project, from choosing and researching a project to design and presentation. To assist home schooled children, many libraries offer support and continuing education opportunities for parents.
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