Or whatever other dystopic future you can conjure up.
Author Cory Doctorow, no stranger to the dystopic future, writes: “Public libraries have always been places where skilled information professionals assisted the general public with the eternal quest to understand the world.”
Well, imagine the world you wished you understood up and vanishes one day – alien invasion, plague, zombie apocalypse… Perhaps these all sound like the unhinged ravings of someone who has consumed too much YA SciFi or bing watched the new X-Files. You would probably be right. But, let’s just imagine that world for a moment and how the libraries of today are preparing you to cope with it.
With such a vast quantity of information still available in print even after the zombies arise, the aliens invade, or fill in your own apocalyptic storyline here, understanding how to find and select the “best” source is a skill you will hope you paid attention to when visiting the library. Be sure to take an interest in what appears to be that boring Dewey Decimal or LCC system. Knowing which aisle to pick a book on “how to cauterize a wound” or a US Road Atlas, not to mention a journal on edible plants of the Southwest, is going to be an invaluable skill.
For the young among us, those free early literacy classes are going to pay off big time. Once society is ravaged and the power grid breaks down, anything you want to know on how to survive is exclusively going to be through books. So, boy, are you going to be glad mum and dad took you to the library!
And those Punk Rock Aerobic classes offered at the library will keep you in shape. Unlike the slow walking zombies of your parents’ era, modern zombies are FAST and you are going to have to RUN to survive.
While “…in the automobile age, everyone was expected to know the fundamentals of how their cars worked” says Cory Doctorow, today, Maker Spaces and Creative Labs will help you learn tinkering skills to understand the “new” technology. You will be so happy you learned how solar cells work, can take apart and put back together simple computers, build your own surveillance drone, code, design, and print 3-D objects. What kinds of 3-D objects do you ask? Well, if you survived the loss of a limb in fleeing a zombie, printing a 3-D prosthetic limb is no longer beyond the realm of possibility.
There will eventually be a lack of processed food and, assuming zombie’s don’t like non-human flesh, an abundance of domesticated animals. Libraries today are offering instruction in butchering, gardening, and cooking – all skills that will be essential.
That magnetic poetry kit from the Idea Box at the Oak Park Library will be one of your most re-usable, weather resistant ways of communicating with other survivors. You will fondly remember how it seemed like such a whimsical idea before the dystopic future arrived.
Ignore the naysayers. Teaching users to encode information that results in a new 3-D printed solar-powered car is at the heart of what libraries should be doing. Libraries provide equal access to information tools. Wake-up! These tools don’t simply let you experiencing the imaginative worlds created by others, but actually let you bring your imagination to life. That solar powered 3-D printed car – a must. Those who believe Maker Space and 3-D printing are just fads have obviously never worked in a school or academic library that teach users ALL kinds of information literacy skills. And, helpfully, you no longer have to be wary of copyright infringement – in the new zombie era, all the lawyers and manufacturers will be gone.
Finally, the collaborative learning fostered by the Learning Commons will serve you well in the Zombie Apocalypse. Surviving will require the collective problem solving abilities of groups. You will able to transfer what you learn in your courses to … well, … survive, … and thrive. In today’s libraries “…you have tools, room to collaborate, equipment, advice, research options, and access to expert information.
“Now it is up to you to build something worthwhile…:” the future of the new world!
Tracie is the High School Librarian and Technology Integrationist as well as the the International Baccalaureate Extended Essay Coordinator at the American Community School at Beirut. After spending twenty years teaching History and Theory of Knowledge to high school students in a number of international schools around the world, her passion for helping students find information, evaluate it, and construct knowledge combined with a desire to leverage technological tools to enhance that process led her to pursue a degree in information science. Tracie is currently completing her MLIS at San Jose State University where she has focused on Information Instruction and Emerging Technology.