I had the pleasure recently to hear a talk by Lee Rainie. He's the director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
The folks at Pew do a lot of research, and lately have begun to focus on a group dubbed "screenagers." These are people between the ages of 12 and 20 who spend a lot of time in front of various screens -- TVs, computers, iPods, cellphones, etc.
Below are some of Pew's findings.
Seventy percent of American adults now use the Internet. For teens, it's 93 percent.
I've always been fascinated by "idiots savant" -- people who are, for instance, lightning calculators, or able to tell you, the instant they hear your birth date, what day of the week that was. That's the savant part.
But the "idiot" part means that often these remarkable super-abilities are coupled with disabilities. No doubt some folks with super-abilities learn to hide them. It may also be that such abilities are linked to accidents of biochemistry, and thus are coupled with various kinds of physical or mental impairments.
"Stealing from one person is plagiarism. Stealing from many is research."
One of the jobs of leadership is to keep an eye on the competition. Librarians, as I've written before, tend to be very open about what has, and has not, worked for them. So word gets around.
Library experiments fall into a couple of broad divisions. They are interesting, or they are useful.
Why do people rob banks? Because that's where the money is.
That old joke provoked some interesting thinking for me.
Right now, our staff handles a lot of reference calls. Some come to us by telephone. Some come to us over the Internet. Many questions we handle in person, face to face.
But there's a flaw. Do you see it?
On the one hand, yes, the library is the place where the answers are.
But it's not where the questions are.