By Steve Newell
(Oct. 13, 2011) My philosophy of education included experience with two years working in the alternative high schools in the inner city economic crisis neighborhoods. During this time I participated as the co-coordinator of the “Anti-violence Art Project” in Bedford-Stuyvessant in Brooklyn, New York City.
This was work rebuilding from a lower economic environment to an improved condition for both learning and community in support of the experience of culture and people in the community. The results were very good over time.
One thing at the start of rebuilding a neighborhood in crisis was the library. One thing made students show interest most noticeably in coming back to that learning environment, that new library. Young adults can sense the potential in a library, the access to things that they would not easily find in any other kind of facility. Especially for the junior high school students you will notice excitement about the library and an eagerness to go and explore. They do extra work just to have the privilege of extra time to browse.
My focus is social science and community health. To me, the Internet is a disappointment in many ways that it functions for education and I want to ask everyone to not allow it to be suggested as the new replacement for the actual library. It is a lot safer seeing an early teenager browsing a library than at that black box of the Internet.
I noticed that when Egypt had a social change, the Internet was closed. I can’t help but notice when cables are accidentally cut somewhere in a nearby county access to the Internet is limited for many days. So there’s something about an old wise saying of my dear Grandma that, “You don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Finally, there is another longer-term economic consideration, property values. Good schools and a good library increase the attractiveness of Ames for corporations and families looking for a place to move. I don’t have to mention property values in Ankeny do I? If we were to take ISU out of the picture, what would we have? It seems again like too many eggs in one basket, doesn’t it? Let’s keep up the library.