Gloucester libraries look to the future


GHS librarian Samantha Whitney (left) with GHS volunteers, Dr. David Weinberger, and Dr. Richard Safier attended the event


Last week, the Gloucester Education Foundation, along with Superintendent Safier, library officials and the public, got together to discuss how advanced technology will impact the future of education and libraries.

Dr. David Weinberger, a graduate from Harvard University and a senior researcher at the University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society was the lead speaker at the fundraising event, held at Cruiseport.

Weinberger’s comments explained how advanced technology is critical for meeting the needs of 21st century learners.

He highlighted how online, anything can be changed or updated in real time as new information comes in. This makes the internet an important resource for students, as it promotes “incremental and public learning” as users online are able to discuss topics with each other.

“Things on the web aren’t contained, they’re explosive,” siad Weinberger.  People are realizing they can learn in public, so others can get an answer too. “Learning is something we do together.”

Many adults these days argue, “When I was your age we had to use the Encyclopedia!” And, while the Encyclopedia holds a lot of valuable information, how much information is still there?  As newer editions of the Encyclopedia Brittanica are produced, the information inside is shortened, putting less in about one topic to fit information about a new topic that was not there before.

With the internet, the information never goes away. With it’s endless storage capacity there can be hundreds of links and articles about a specific topic without having to shorten any of it to make it fit. “[With the internet and Encyclopedias] there is no apples to apples comparison.” said Weinberger.

Superintendent, Dr. Richard Safier, Sawyer Free Library Director, Deborah Kelsey, and the high school’s own, Samantha Whitney,  also spoke at the event.

Dr. Safier’s goal with integrating technology into the curriculum is that “All learners will have engaging learning experiences.” which will ensure that slower learners will be able to get the same education as a student who may learn at a fast pace.

Though it is not yet confirmed, Dr. Safier is hopeful that they will be able to introduce computer programming to Gloucester schools next year and expand TV and video media centers. Integration of technology is also necessary because PARCC, the new standardized assessment of learning which will replace MCAS, will be taken online.

“We will move print, not out, but to the perimeter.” states Safier. “[Students and teachers] will be able to get information from both digital and hard copy resources.”

On top of all the changes going on in the schools, the Sawyer Free Library has also made some changes to keep up with the ever growing lifestyle of students.

Library cards are now available to rent something without physical borrowing. This includes e-books, online newspapers and magazines, and online audio books. The library has also removed almost all of their fees. There is no longer a fee to replace a lost or stolen library card. Presently,  the only fee is one for late books.

The Sawyer Free Library has also introduced self check out. Now people wishing to check out a book can do it themselves by scanning the bar code on the book at one of the computers stationed throughout the library.

Wifi and laptops will be provided for student use and the teen section of the library, currently located on the third floor, will soon be moved to the main floor. Moving the teen section will encourage noise- students will be able to speak with partners while doing school projects and homework together. The library also hopes to provide textbooks for middle school and high school students looking to do their homework there.

“I don’t enforce a quiet library,” stated Ms. Whitney adding to Kelsey’s visions for the library.  “With their own space they will receive a better education.”