ALA Presents: Restoring Contemplation -- Why We Should and How Libraries Can Help

Your Name and Title: Jessie L. Mannisto


Library, School, or Organization Name: American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy


Co-Presenter Name(s): N/A


Area of the World from Which You Will Present: United States (Eastern Time Zone)


Language in Which You Will Present: English


Target Audience(s): Academic and public librarians; developers of digital information services; all those who are interested in the intersection of information overload and information literacy


Short Session Description (one line): ALA Presents: Restoring Contemplation -- Why We Should and How Libraries Can Help


Full Session Description (as long as you would like): It’s the Information Age, and our smartphones and wifi allow us to be more connected that ever before. At the same time, several national bestsellers discussing the costs of our hyper-connected lifestyle (“Hamlet’s Blackberry” and “The Shallows,” to name a few) have clearly struck a chord.  Many of us – including so-called Digital Natives – are searching for a balanced digital lifestyle. Libraries and librarians are uniquely positioned to help us find it. 

In this session, I will argue that digital overload is essentially an issue of information literacy.  Beginning with a brief overview of recent research on our wired brains, I’ll demonstrate how and why we can benefit from periods of disconnection, exploring the difference between information gathering and information processing.  Citing examples from organizations and individuals, I will propose ways that librarians can help users achieve a balanced “digital diet,” – including programming, space planning, and partnerships.  The session will include time for discussion and for others to share their experiences.

The future of libraries is not only about embracing new technology.  It’s also about what we’ve always done better than anyone: providing the space and tools for contemplation.

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