We used to have heaps of primary class visits to the public library - 5 or 6 every week - but now we don't.
The long term payoff for us having every school kid in this town visiting the library, at least 6 times a year, was that we got to see kids we would never normally see, kids whose families didn't include the public library as part of their usual, family routine. We got these kids through the door, and gave them the courage to come back out side of school hours, alone or with their mates. We miss that opportunity now, and I think we can't afford to let this ride.
Our schools are focussing their attention on the inernet as the primary source of information and even our towns, which have fairly low socio-economic profiles, have 2 or 3 computers in every classroom. What the teachers don't neccessarily have is the skills, knowledge or time to devise and deliver the lessons that will teach our children how to maximise the opportunities the internet provides.
We need to rethink our programmes and offer something that is irresistible to teachers, helps them deliver to their students - and saves them time too. Universities do this 'user education' or 'digital literacy' really well but I think public librarians could offer this to the schools of the town.
A series of high quality lessons focussing on fostering and developing skill in using the internet, delivered by the local public librarian needs to be re-established as a core part of the academic year if we are going to reclaim our relevance to a whole generation of kids whose families for what ever reason don't bring them to the library.
This clip was blogged about by Peter Godwin recently and talks about why Google is just not enough.