The Evolution of Libraries for Future Generations

It is often repeated how vital education is for the productive evolution of society and that it is through learning that we can grow and develop in positive ways. As teachers and parents we know how crucial education is for our children, especially given its ability to teach them about our past and prepare them for a rapidly changing future. Reading and reference resources are an essential element of the educational journey, which is why libraries can be invaluable venues in schools and communities. The opening of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, with its innovatively striking design, is a testament to how seriously the UAE Government takes learning within our society and the golden opportunity we have to share history, traditions and cultures from all over the world. It will house over 4.5 million books, numerous event spaces and act as a central hub from which to preserve and promote the poetry of the Arabic language. This new venue shows how embracing the potential of libraries and considering new ways in which to expand their reach and influence are key components of how we can improve educational standards within the UAE.

Recently, avid promoter of reading and GEMS Library Network Leader, Raghunathan Othayoth travelled to the 48th Annual Conference and the 23rd International Forum on Research on School Librarianship in Croatia. As well as joining like minds dedicated to the convergence, empowerment and transformation of school libraries, it was a chance to share a presentation on the successful establishment of a school library network through collaboration and partnership. All of the attendees took advantage of the event to work on making lasting connections in which experiences could be relayed and lessons learnt from a host of international and multi-cultural backgrounds. Raghunathan focused on how a library network could transform from the traditional into a 21st century learning space through the following elements:

• Breaking traditional concepts
• Setting SMART goals
• Collaborative learning
• Participation in international conferences and workshops
• Developing open forums for discussions & inquiries

The presentation’s goal very much mirrored the overall objectives of the IASL 2019 Conference to discuss the mission, vision, and role of the school library in a digital society and how by embracing new ideas and concepts, school libraries will remain at the heart of teaching in our ever-changing, increasingly globalised world. The presentation also highlighted the need for libraries to reflect our new awareness of learning techniques and that it could incorporate many of the attributes that have been shown to be more successful in retention across a broader range of students. They include collaboration, knowledge construction, self-reflection, problem-solving and open discussions. By working together with colleagues from within an existing network and those in the wider international sphere, we can share ideas and experiences that will benefit all parties and lead to a greater offering and range of services within the library network. Imagine the possibilities when we adapt new technologies and methodologies to maximise the impact of libraries and their network?
From great novels to informative biographies, historical records to works of poetry, not to mention the events and activities hosted, libraries can be the lifeblood of schools, institutions and cities, so it is fantastic to see such a collective shift towards how to elevate their remit and ensure their role is firmly intertwined with modern learning for our inquisitive future generations still yet to discover the book that will change their life.

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