Monthly Archives: August 2012

Engage Your Millennials


Recently my wife and I have been frequenting some new establishments, as well as some old ones we haven’t frequented in quite a while. The reason I mention this is because it struck us that we are experiencing more Millennials in these retail establishments and they are very friendly. They are gregarious, open, engaging, articulate and sincerely interested in being helpful. I could even say they seem enthused about their jobs. Overall this makes the establishment more inviting, someplace that one enjoys going to get their services, and the level of service is noticeably better in these places. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with every establishment and all Millennials, but the good ones seriously shine.

Still not getting my point? It’s more perspective about The Perception of Your Library. A few months ago I visited a library for a conversation with the director, and I was greeted by the person behind the front desk as if I was a relative she hadn’t seen in a long time. The greeting was so sincere and enthusiastic, it made me quickly question whether I knew her, or she knew me. I was pretty sure not. The feeling that kind of greeting gives a library customer is one that makes them want to be there, and want to come back. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t a Millennial, but the Millennials I’ve run into lately have given us the same feeling – they are sincerely happy that we are in their establishment.

One place we recently ‘discovered’ was an Italian deli, because someone recently exposed us to the less familiar but more delectable elements of Italian cuisine. Our exploration has led us to be more adventuresome in trying new dishes and ingredients. The most recently impressive Millennial we encountered was extremely helpful in answering our questions, offering us samples, explaining the uses of the ingredients, and even interested in our ‘story.’ She told us her name and proudly announced that she was “The Cheese Monger.” She asked our names and expressed how pleased she was that we had ‘discovered’ them, asking us to come back soon. It was a very pleasant and beneficial experience, and we definitely will return – soon.

In my Post of February 17, 2010, “21st Century Library Customers – Generation Y, the Millennials“, I reported – among other characteristics – that;

Millennials are typified by their use of instant communication technologies, are also somewhat peer-oriented (which means they prefer the opinions of anonymous peers to that of ‘experts’), are into expression and acceptance, are more culturally tolerant than previous generations, … They like to work collaboratively, and prefer to shape their jobs to fit their lives rather than adapt their lives to the workplace. … They also believe in “doing” as opposed to “learning to do”.

In light of my recent personal interactions with Millennials, I think I can interpret those observations as meaning they are very good at engaging with customers, creating that welcoming atmosphere, promoting teamwork in the workplace, and showing a dedication for their work and organization that inspires their customers with the desire to return.

They are the perfect people to create a perception of your library as;
Welcoming
Helpful
Knowledgeable
Innovative
Futuristic
“The Place”

ADDENDUM:
Thank you Steve,
It is easy enough to forget the positive aspects of working with Millenials, and your observations are apt reminders of that. We have an ongoing collaboration with a city-wide summer youth employment program, and begin an internship program for aspiring librarians in collaboration with our community high school in the fall. Both exemplify the possibilities of engaging with young adults in positive ways and moving beyond stereotypes. I’d be happy to share the details. Anyone who would like the proposed curriculum for our collaboration can e-mail me at bfarwell@otis.lioninc.org

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The Perception of Your Library


No doubt most Americans are watching the presidential election events pretty closely. Commentators and those involved claim it is the dirtiest and most lie-filled campaign in history. Every news and media organization is conducting polls to figure out what Americans think, believe and feel about candidates and issues. Generally, the polls are in contradiction to what most commentators are saying about the candidates and voters.

Even though the results of this presidential election are significant for every American, and regardless of which side one happens to be on, it is very evident that people believe what they believe no matter what “facts” media and commentators – and even candidates – claim to be the “truth.” Everyone has their own version of the truth, and in some cases they may both be right – they’re just talking apples and oranges. If this situation doesn’t prove that old adage that Perception is Reality, I don’t know what would. That’s just the way people are!

My point? Have you taken time to consider your community’s perception of its [your] library? Does it fit with your reality as you perceive the library? Do you even know your community’s perception of your library? When was the last time you asked your customers what they thought of their library – from an overall perspective?

Librarians tend to survey customers about specific programs or services, but do we ask what they think or feel when they think of The Library? Is that even important? I think it is highly important and extremely relevant to know your library’s standing within your community. It has everything to do with support, participation, funding, and especially relevance to the community – that paramount perception that determines your survival.

Let’s look at this situation from extremes. I find that considering the worst and best case scenarios often clarifies the issues related to a question.

Worst Case: You conduct a survey of every citizen in your community [just for the sake of this illustration], so there are no sampling errors and nothing to dispute the results. Those results reveal that 50% of residents don’t even know where the library is located. Another 40% indicate that they have never used the library – for anything. The final 10% respond that they’ve had better libraries in other places they’ve lived. OUCH! Those results would hurt even the most thick-skinned librarian. BUT, you know for a fact that the city council members know you, and you all think you’re doing a pretty good job.

So What? With results like this, how long do you think the community will continue to fund the library? Or maybe we should say – this library director. Citizens are the ones who elect their city council representatives. City and county councils fund those government agencies that can demonstrate they are making a difference with the money they are given. With all the problems communities face today, jurisdictions fund those agencies that are providing solutions, creating a better community in which people want to live, and presenting a show piece of which the community can be proud.

Best Case: Your survey of every citizen reveals that 90% of residents know where the library is located, and about 50% know its general hours of operation. About 45% respond that they use the library “regularly.” Only 10% indicate that they have never used the library – for anything. Finally, 30% respond that they’ve never had better library service anywhere they’ve lived. WOW! Who wouldn’t be proud of those results?

So What? With results like this, a library could feel confident that they are making a difference in their community. Jurisdictions continue to fund government agencies that demonstrate they are making a difference with the money they are given. They even give them more money to provide more solutions for the community, if they demonstrate they are within their capabilities. This agency is totally secure because they are creating a better community in which people want to live, and presenting a show piece of which the community is proud.

These two scenarios show the importance of community perception of the library. It is highly important to the library’s relevance to the community.

What is the community’s perception of your library?
Welcoming
Helpful
Cutting-edge
Knowledgeable
Innovative
Futuristic
Community Leader
“The Place”

In addition to my point that perception is reality when it comes to your community’s perception of its library, I further assert that your library will become a 21st Century Library when your community perceives that you are helping it become a 21st Century community. Perception can be even more important than fact.

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Why Libraries Are Not Creative Organizations


Firstly, schools of library and information science don’t teach it, and secondly, librarians don’t think it. OK, librarians as individuals are relatively creative, but I’m referring to library organizations – they are not creative or nimble.

Although we are just now starting to see SLIS cross fertilize with schools of design, that is still taking a somewhat business-like approach. Business-like is good, but it’s not necessarily creative, or all that is needed in today’s 21st Century environment. Operating a library in a more business-like manner is just that – business-like – not creative.

So what’s the difference? Being more business-like will help a library become profitable, but it won’t necessarily solve all its problems with being relevant. I wrote that “Library Profit = Community Relevance.” That was simply a way to measure a library’s profitability. It was not a way to achieve community relevance. THAT requires creativity.

OK, so why aren’t library organizations creative enough to solve the problem of being relevant to their community? Several reasons that I can think of.

1. A belief that all that is needed is more information to solve their problems.
Well, information is one of the library’s problems – too much, not enough, wrong format, unorganized, etc. None of this information addresses their local problems. The “profession” is not offering any useful answers. So, what solutions are emerging are coming from local library organizations that have figured out that being creative is the only course of action that will work.

2. Library leaders are afraid to market test anything.
We have been taught to analyze and research, rather than test. We don’t really know how to test market programs or ideas in our communities. We have trouble with planned abandonment, so how can libraries be expected to test seemingly good ideas. We are also not risk-takers at heart. It comes very hard to library organizations to truly reward risk-takers, so therefore we don’t cultivate them in our libraries. Samuel Goldwyn reportedly said; “What we need are some new clichés.” meaning that what they needed was more of the tried and tested and known to work formula movies. Maybe that works in Hollywood, but it does nothing but stifle creativity in library organizations.

3. Too much emphasis on management at the expense of creativity.
Water is a main ingredient of soda pop, but thank goodness soda is much more than just water. So too, management is essential to a well run library organization, but management only focuses on WHAT IS. Creativity is essential to figuring out what your library CAN BE. The 21st Century Library needs a massive infusion of what it CAN BE! Couple traditional management with a lack of vision, or even foresight, and the results are stagnation.

4. Complacency is the enemy of creativity.
Being complacent about what you have, what you are and what your library should be will never promote creativity. Commercial information providers are searching for “the” information provider model. They know that creating a better mouse trap will give them the competitive advantage and cause people to flock to them for their services. So too should libraries be searching for “the” public and academic and school and special library model to make their customers flock to them for their services. Creativity is the only way to accomplish that.

5. Short-term thinking focused too much on results that will satisfy funding authorities.
This may sound duplicitous coming from me, the guy who has written about the importance of outcomes, outcomes, outcomes for funding decision makers. But, again, that is about management – not creativity. Management may be the water in the soda pop, but creativity is the flavor. Would you prefer plain water or lemon-lime, or black cherry, or cola instead? Creativity makes the water enjoyable and desirable.

Until library organizations – and librarians as a profession – become more creative in finding solutions to becoming more relevant to their community, we will continue to get the “Why do we need libraries?” question. Aren’t you tired of that question? I know I am.

[Adapted from Edward de Bono‘s article “Why CEOs Are Not Creative” in Chief Executive]

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Tame the Monkeys in Your Library


I wrote earlier this year that I was going to try to write more about leadership and management topics. One of the best lessons I ever learned regarding management was to keep the monkey on whoever’s back it belongs. Sounds like good advice, but let me explain exactly what that means, and why it is an important lesson to learn. 

Does this situation sound familiar? John steps into your office and says; “Boss, we have a problem.” and your initial reaction is “OK, tell me about it and I’ll fix it.” That is usually most supervisor’s reaction to hearing one of their employees say “we have a problem”, because “we” are a team, which is a good thing, so any problems that one person has are problems we all have. And John knows whether it is a “we” problem – doesn’t he? ABSOLUTELY WRONG!

Consider that problems in any organization are like monkeys. They hang on to everything, are noisy and constantly wanting to be fed. Somebody has to take care of them or they get totally out of hand and become monstrous. They can make a real mess out of the office causing chaos. ALL employees walk around with monkeys (work related problems) on their back virtually all the time. Some are cute little fellows, and others are gorillas, but they all have to be taken care of.

Here’s why “I’ll fix it.” is the totally wrong answer. Before John said “We have a problem.” it was John’s problem. Right? If the supervisor says, “Let me see what I can do to fix it.” BAM! it has become the supervisor’s problem, because you’ve effectively said; “OK, this is now my problem. I take responsibility for getting it solved.” If you enable or even allow John to let his monkey jump from his back onto your back – which is why John came to you and said, “WE” have a problem – then you are helping no one.  Think about it for a minute and you’ll realize that if EVERY employee you have does that to you, your time will be consumed by resolving THEIR problems – probably to the neglect of your own direct responsibilities.

Every employee is responsible for something. That’s what they get paid for – to be responsible and work to accomplish whatever activities and goals their boss tells them to do. But, what about those problems/issues that invariably crop up that are beyond an employees’ decision making authority to resolve? Isn’t he/she responsible to bring that to the attention of their supervisor for resolution? Of course! But there’s where the line is drawn. Bringing it to a supervisor’s attention doesn’t mean making it the supervisor’s problem. It is still John’s problem until his supervisor tells him it is no longer his concern.

John is being paid to do his job. If you enable him to dump part of it on you, you’re not doing him any favors because John will never learn how to totally do his job without a significant amount of your assistance and supervision. He and others are likely not going to get your proper attention if you’re spending all your time solving everyone else’s problems. John should do his job, and you should support him – not do it for him.

So, what should your response to “Boss, we have a problem.” be? Next time that happens to you try this response; “OK, tell me about it and let’s fix it.” or even a simple “What problem?” You don’t have to acknowledge that there is a problem until you determine that it is actually ‘a problem.’ Require John’s monkey to stay on his back, but let him know you’re there to help him figure out how to care for it. Listen to the situation. Even if you don’t have time to deal with John’s monkey right then – NEVER say “OK, let me think about it.” That effectively takes the monkey on your back until you get back to John with your additional questions or potential solution. John doesn’t have to give it a second thought until then. That would be wasting his time and yours.

It is ESSENTIAL that you ask pointed diagnostic questions, because you need to get to the root of the problem, not just John’s perception of the situation. Ask these kinds of questions, if John hasn’t already shared the information with you.
• How long have you known about this?
• Have you spoken to [whomever] about this? What did they say?
• Did you think about doing [something specific] to resolve this?
• Tell me what you think we should do about this.

The last statement is critical to getting John to take care of his own monkey. DO NOT let his problem become your problem, even if it requires you to get involved in the solution. Often times problems require more investigation and examination of solutions. That’s why John needs to remain its owner, otherwise you’re the one who will be doing all that work instead of John.

Based on John’s answers, either send him back to get answers and pursue potential solutions, or let him answer the questions and outline solutions he may have already thought of. If you have all the information you need, make a decision. If not, send John off to get answers, more information and pursue solutions. NEVER do it yourself! Otherwise you have set precedence for John that all he has to do is bring you his problems and you’ll find him solutions.

This is where the ‘teaching moment’ – as it is often called – comes in for good use. Let John learn something more about the situation and investigate the possible solutions. It is better for you and for John if he can reach a good solution. It will give him a sense of accomplishment, as well as increased confidence, and he just might learn something new.

Among “professionals” – like librarians – it is expected that people will be motivated, use their education and some initiative to address everyday little problems that crop up, resolve them and keep working toward their assigned objectives. Let them use those characteristics to care for their own monkeys. There is no reason for the supervisor to take responsibility for everyone’s problems just because they say “Boss, we have a problem.” Don’t be too quick to jump in as the problem solver. Think about the situation from a bigger picture perspective, and teach your employees how to care for their own monkeys. You have enough of your own to care for.

If you handle it well, you may even get your employees to the point where they don’t bring you problems – they bring you solutions. When that happens, people will have learned to care for their own monkeys, and you’ll have tamed the monkeys in your library.

Adapted from “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey” by Oncken and Wass, Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec 1974; p 75-80

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Why Libraries Are Needed! – Revisited


With the latest buzz over Emily Ford’s In the Library with the Lead Pipe Blog post “What do we do and why do we do it?” last Wednesday, and Jacob Berg’s  “BeerBrarian Blog” commentary response “Toward a Unifying Field Theory of Librarianship, Or Not“, it caused me to revisit my own observations from February, 2011, about Not WHY?, But WHY! Libraries Are Needed.

Here’s what I think about all this philosophizing over a librarianship philosophy.
I think she [my reader] has hit on the fundamental basis for establishing the library’s significance in the 21st Century, or any century.  That is what the profession has been lacking – a proper explanation of the one fundamental issue on which we can base our indisputable need to exist.  This may well be it. I have quoted her comment below (using some editorial license emphasizing particularly important points).

“My thought is this: part of [what] I think libraries problem is, is this vaguery that we attach to our purpose. I was reading on the IFLA [International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions] website and it stated; ‘The public library is a locally based service meeting the needs of the local community and operating within the context of that community.’

Seriously?  What does that mean…how is that helpful?  A service meeting WHAT needs? I mean, the sentence could be rewritten for the local butcher shop. “The Snyder Bro. Butcher Shop is a locally based service meeting the needs of the local community and operating within the context of that community.” It is about as useful and meaningful.

Nothing these days seems to say WHAT we do or what need we are fulfilling.  Some days I feel like I am the only person still saying – The purpose of the free public library is to create an informed citizenry that is capable of participating in self-governance. I thought that was what the American library was for.  And, from THAT comes a whole lot of ways to provide that service and to define “What” an informed citizen is.  As in, does access to the Sopranos TV show help you self govern? In my mind yes, because it allows you to participate in discussions based in popular culture that lead to communication and conversation about our society, culture, and way of life which ultimately impacts our politics and how we govern ourselves.

At another place on the IFLA website it says: ‘The public library, the local gateway to knowledge, provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decision-making and cultural development of the individual and social groups.’ (IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto, 1994) Frankly I don’t agree.  This mission makes us easily replaceable…which is really something we should avoid.  I mean, in this definition you could replace public library with bookstore, Internet, social club, church group…you name it.

Now this statement (oddly also in IFLA–they seem to have some confusion on what they think the library is) is the best…but still not as clear and concise as the one I always use (which also makes us irreplaceable): ‘A public library is an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some other form of community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of the imagination through a range of resources and services and is equally available to all members of the community regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, religion, language, disability, economic and employment status and educational attainment.This one is [also] lacking because it doesn’t say WHY we do this…and THAT is the most crucial piece.

And, as a public library director I fight the constant battle with the politicians, the non-user taxpayers, the staff and frankly some days inside my own head of WHY do we do this…Are we still relevant?  What is the point?  And, when I consider the 21st century library, I still feel like the HOW needs grounding in the WHY.

During my MBA program they talked a lot about the sustainable business. A company that makes buggy whips or wagon wheels is going to be out of business in short order versus the business that makes accessories for things that transport people. If libraries want to last from century to century then we have to stay grounded in WHY we are unique and then HOW to provide the service in the current landscape.  But don’t let the HOW overshadow the WHY.  NO ONE does what we do, IF you [focus on] the free and equal access to information for all citizens to create a people capable of sustainable self-government.  We take it for granted, but ours is a system dependant upon a populace capable of sustaining itself.  The Roman republic only lasted 565 years…we are on year 235.”

If any additional justification for the director’s argument is needed, it can be found in a quote from President James Madison in a letter written in 1822;

A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

In the Supreme Court case Houchins v. KQED, Inc., 438 U.S. 1, 438 U.S. 30-32 (1978) Justice Stevens wrote a dissenting opinion in which he quoted Madison:

The preservation of a full and free flow of information to the general public has long been recognized as a core objective of the First Amendment to the Constitution. . . . In addition to safeguarding the right of one individual to receive what another elects to communicate, the First Amendment serves an essential societal function. Our system of self-government assumes the existence of an informed citizenry. [Emphasis added.]

The reason libraries are needed is because it is a fundamental right of America’s citizens to have free access to information and knowledge.

I think Jacob had an excellent post! “Make as much information possible to as many people as possible in as many ways as possible.” because something beats nothing all to hell. Too much philosophizing about a library philosophy puts people off the real work that needs doing. Jacob noted that only 20% of ALA members cared enough to vote for their leadership in 2012. I think that’s because those 80% realize that actions speak louder than words.

Stop debating our existence, or lamenting our place in society, and start DOING Librarianship. Our philosophy is nothing more than Jacob implied by stating; “We are agents navigating structures, some of which we helped to create.” We should be DOING librarianship, not debating it. And, lots of 21st Century Libraries already are!

21st Century Skills in Action in School Libraries

21st Century Skills in Action in Illinois Public Libraries

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Jamie LaRue & Colorado Public Libraries


I know Jamie. We were on the Board of BCR together for awhile – before it was absorbed by LYRASIS. Jamie is the Director of the Douglas County (CO) Public Libraries. When I ran across his blog post yesterday, I was eager to read what he had to share about the Colorado Public Library Directors Retreat from last June.

I’ve followed Jamie’s initiatives at Douglas County since I first met him, and I must say he is a true leader in the profession, as well as an innovator. (Digital Discovery – A New 21st Century Library Skill) So, it didn’t surprise me to read that the other library leaders in Colorado are thinking very much in a 21st Century Library context.

Among the trends Jamie reports, there were two that especially struck a chord with me. They are:

* community focus. I’m not sure I know all the reasons for this. Part of it is the influx of Millennials, who are generally more community-minded, both as users and as new library workers. Part may be the recession, which encourages people to look around for a little more social support. Another explanation might be the rise of library districts in Colorado, who depend upon public support, which means a greater awareness of the need to demonstrate value to funders. Whatever the reasons, many libraries were shaking themselves out of too strong an internal focus, and taking more direct interest in what is going on, and what is needed, in the larger environment. There’s some amazing public programming going on out there, including a session on “yarn bombing” (where people, under cover of darkness, adorn public structures like statues, fire hydrants and streetlights with crocheting, knitted hats, home-stitched scarves, etc. — a kind of crafts-based graffiti). A number of libraries reported efforts to be a force for increased civility and open discourse in their cities and towns, and even to address the issue of bullying in Native American reservations.

Colorado has generally been known for progressiveness and young blood. If indeed the “influx of Millennials” has prompted the increased community focus, then their influence is beginning to be felt, in significant ways. Older librarians need to embrace the future through the eyes of the generation that will soon be the leaders. In my estimation Jamie is DEAD ON that funders want to know how the money is being spent, and whether or not it is used effectively – outcomes, outcomes, outcomes – with a refreshed outward focus.

And;

* library cooperation. There was a lot of talk about this. Colorado libraries team up in many ways: sharing materials through a statewide courier system, providing statewide online reference assistance to students, sharing computer catalogs, and negotiating large cooperative purchasing agreements for subscriptions to various electronic resources. There’s a sense that things may be changing: not so much a growing unwillingness to share, but the need to re-examine some of those projects to figure out where we get the best bang for the buck. We worked up a team to look at that issue of shared online reference work.

Not only is library cooperation smart in the present economic climate, it is healthy for strengthening the profession and fostering innovation and development of a new library service model. Questioning the status quo and seeking service improvements is always a good thing. Understanding how your library can better serve your community is essential to your library’s survival.

Thanks for sharing Jamie.

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The Lamentable Loss of America’s Literacy


While I was on vacation last week, I heard some very disturbing news. My state has adopted the Common Core State Standards curriculum that eliminates ‘cursive writing skills’ from the core curriculum of public schools. I was shocked. Shocked that any state would do such a thing, and shocked to learn that 45 states had already slipped past my notice. I’ve been writing that “education reform” is a major factor in the environment that is affecting the library in the 21st Century, but who would have thought it would go that far. I guess anyone can suffer from short sightedness.

How I missed this School Library Journal article from July 19, 2011, is a mystery that upsets me, but not nearly as much as what this “reform” is doing to education of young people. According to this Cursive Out Of Common Core Standards, But Still Hanging On article;

Currently, 46 states have adopted the Common Core curriculum, bringing some commonality to what all students are expected to learn across the country – and eventually, what they will be tested on as well. While most educators agree that keyboarding – or learning how to use a computer’s keyboard – is a critical skill in our increasingly digital age, there are still uses for handwriting, albeit fewer.

Despite the fact that the Common Core website shows only 45 states have adopted the curriculum, I’m still in shock. Actually, I was stunned a few years ago when I was close to a boy and girl (brother and sister of relatives) who were in middle school and had the worst handwriting I’d ever seen, and could not read cursive at their grade level. I later understood a bit more when I came across Jason Dorsey: The Gen-Y Guy and his video where he laments about the millennial who couldn’t read a handwritten note from his boss.

But, I honestly did not have that cognitive “moment” where I really understood that our society is becoming less literate than ever until I heard that cursive writing is out of the core curriculum across most of America. I’ve even seen that lack of ability to write cursive can inhibit reading comprehension skills. So, now we won’t be able to read or write? WHOSE ASININE IDEA WAS THIS?

No doubt some of you are wondering why in this Information Age of technology and computers – when I’ve written that we’ll soon be able to simply speak to computers and not even keyboard – that I should be shocked. It’s like the SLJ article states;

Some note that as fewer students are taught cursive, the ability to read historical documents may decrease – much like an ancient language slowly disappearing from common use.

How sad that is! It’s not that our language – the basis of our culture – is dying during our lifetime, it’s that we’re deliberately killing it! To be replaced by what? Some texting shorthand jargon that few non-digital natives understand? TM IM TILII. (Trust me, I’m telling it like it is.)

So what? How does this impact the librarianship profession?
How difficult do you think it will be:
– to work with young people who can’t read cursive?
– to answer reference questions from people who can’t write – only type?
– to help a customer with a call number in their best handwriting?

Although, the advantages to the profession will be:
– not having to erase writing from books,
– not having to erase writing from drymark boards or walls,
– not having to remove writing from bathroom stalls,

I’m sure many of you can recognize the disadvantages to any society that is unable to write or read its own language except in computer text. Tell us what they are. I’m too stunned to think of them all.

ADDENDUM:
My initial review of the Common Core Standards revealed that the word “cursive” was not in the Standards – anywhere. A reader comment prompted me to more closely read the Standards for reading and writing requirements. I’m not encouraged.

Under “Language Standards” the Kindergartners (under the Conventions of Standard English section), are supposed to “1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.” by (among other skills) “a. Print many upper- and lowercase letters.” Grade 1 students are supposed to “a. Print all upper- and lowercase letters.” (Pg. 26) That’s it. Writing letters is not mentioned again.

Under “Writing Standards” (which one would think included “writing” letters – silly me), Kindergartners (under the Production and Distribution of Writing section) are supposed to “6. With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers. (Pg. 19) Grade 3 students are supposed to “6. With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others. (Pg. 21)

My more informed concern now is that after Grade 1, kids will no longer be expected to handwrite anything, they will be expected to increase their “keyboarding” skills. Even in Kindergarten kids can produce written documents using “technology to produce and publish writing.” There is NO expectation for kids to EVER use handwriting!

Maybe this falls under the “everything I need to know in life I learned in Kindergarten” philosophy, but I still think it’s leading to a disastrous future for literacy. Like I wrote – WHOSE ASININE IDEA WAS THIS?

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