Hello, lovely readers!
Now that I am back from my terrible hiatus (finishing the practicum), I have good news. I finally received a pass with distinction on my final assignment of the practicum. The critical essay was written on one of my personal favorite subjects, detective fiction. Over the course of writing about P.D. James’ Devices and Desires, I found an appalling aspect of our society and the education system.
How can society expect the best and brightest of future generations to expand their minds without the tools to do so? We live in an age where a college degree (associates, bachelors, masters) is pretty much required for the job you desire, or even a job that will pay for life’s needs. The economy is struggling so badly that we are willing to sacrifice in this area, and still expect students to provide the best results. Students continually pay out of pocket for the resources (laptops, supplies, books) that should be provided for them to become useful in their own field.
What is even more disturbing is the amount of money students shell out just to go to a college, and this doesn’t include access to the best library resources available. If the students can’t do the research to complete their assignments, how do you expect them to graduate with the skills necessary to succeed?
Now before you give a response, please note that this is not the period of instant information transference. We may have the internet at our fingertips, but that does not mean that the answers are free. Most likely, they are very expensive. This brings us to the root of the problem. We can make cut backs to our libraries or shut them down all together because it costs too much to keep them open.
All over the country, our libraries are suffering from budget cuts that are supposedly necessary to salvage some other need for society. Yet, in a world where we need that college degree to get a job, and are struggling to find positions for skilled worker (to improve the economy), we decide to cut jobs that can help our society succeed. Check out the map below and see how much our resources are cut back for students and non-students across the country. It will appall anyone with a child or love of books because the future of education is slim if this continues.
But are we really considering the long-term repercussions for making these resources unavailable to students? In many ways, the digital age has made it easier for students to utilize books to their full potential. It is considered a rule of thumb in the classroom (to this day) that print text are more reliable than online sources. This may change as books are converted to electronic format, but the majority of a student’s library resources remain on paper and stacked on shelves (especially for English majors). It is not enough to print out new editions of books each year and demand the student to buy the brand new book. Now society expects the student to find their way to the library that may close in a few years to find the texts they need to succeed.
For many of us (commuters, online students, graduate students), access to a full library is either improbable to fit into a schedule or outside of our abilities to obtain. We look to Google and Yahoo to provide us with scholarly texts that may help us to write the best papers and assignments possible. One teensy problem. Almost every single scholarly article or journal on the public databases like JSTOR, Project Muse, Questia all require a username/password or membership for access to any of the full articles.
Why can’t we provide access to online databases for all students (high school and up) to become the most knowledgeable individual that they can be? I don’t think it is that difficult to provide the online or the print resources with the thousands of dollars students will spend 30 year paying back. To me, this is like asking a plumber to learn how to fix pipes without giving him a wrench or tool box. I spent three days looking for resources on my paper only to be left with sad excuses for resources. I was smart enough to purchase one book, which costs me $10 literally for one quote used in my paper. I was lucky the book was available in electronic format because with a full-time job that takes up the library’s hours, it would have been impossible for me to get to a library in time to complete the paper.
The truth is the Google may provide you with the search results, but the answers you seek come at a price.
While my critical paper took 3 days to research, it could have taken a few hours. Without the access to a physical library or the literary journals needed to collect resources, I was forced to use little scholarly resources for my paper. I wish I could have gained access to more because my paper would have been a better one. I happened to luck out this time, but for thousands of students in some of the best schools in the country, they are suffering from a lack of knowledge.
Share your opinion of how students and other readers have little access to library resources. It’s not just the print books that are in danger, but the digital sources are restricted to those who can pay out of pocket for a few minutes of view time.
Anyway, Happy reading and writing all!