A colleague recently posted a link to an American Libraries column titled “An Unplugged Space.” The authors explore the idea of creating spaces in libraries which would not only be quiet spaces, but technology free spaces.
I think this is an important debate, but I do have a few disagreements with this piece. First of all, the authors are proposing that libraries should offer their users a physical space for quiet contemplation free from noise and also free from any form of communication. But I wonder if students are really so incompetent that they are incapable of being able to decide for themselves if they wish to study with their phone on or with it off?
Do libraries want to be perceived this way? In an age where libraries are already seriously behind the times in providing users with high-quality content customized for their mobile devices, I don’t think this is something libraries can afford.
I would argue quite the opposite. Libraries should be creating spaces that are more friendly for mobile devices. In addition, libraries should be at the forefront of creating mobile sites, making apps, and utilizing qr codes, and other mobile content as it arises to provide content/information/help to users right on their smartphone or tablet.
The author points out that a policy of asking students to “turn off communication devices when they enter the classroom” is quite common, and suggests maybe libraries could or should do the same. But I also disagree with professors asking their students to turn their cellphones or mobile devices off at the door. Teachers should be embracing mobile technology into their instruction. It isn’t only libraries, but also professors who are falling behind the times in their pedagogy.
I think libraries are so far behind on mobile technologies, we should be investing more energy on catching up, not investing energy to get us further behind. Just my thoughts on the matter. Feel free to comment if you disagree.