Shaun Davidson has worked in public libraries for seven years, and is currently the adult programmer at Boone County Public Library.
While browsing through the Library’s calendar of events for adults, it is easy to see that we offer plenty of educational workshops, enlightening presentations, and entertaining events. But did you know that these events are also selected to help build the skills that adults need in the 21st century? In 2009, the Institute of Museum and Library Studies (IMLS) identified several skills that are absolutely necessary for individuals to succeed in 21st century life and work.
The 21st Century Skills include:
- Learning and Innovation Skills
- Information, Media and Technology Skills
- Life and Career Skills
- 21st Century Themes such as Civic Literacy, Health Literacy, and Global Awareness
Boone County Public Library supports the goals of ILMS by ensuring that as many of our activities as possible help build these skills in our adult citizens. As a library, we of course offer plenty of learning opportunities that focus on building information and literacy skills. However, many of our activities promote several other skills as well. Our computer classes cultivate critical thinking skills while fostering technology literacy. Hands on workshops encourage creativity and problem-solving capabilities. Book groups and game clubs foster social interaction and communication within our community. Cultural demonstrations and live concerts introduce new forms of expression and advance global awareness.
But why is this important? First and foremost, today’s world is vastly different than it was only a few years ago. Computers are now mobile and fit in the palm of your hand, access to the Internet is a must, technology changes at what seems to be a daily basis, and the world around us is continually getting smaller. The ability to live and work in today’s world depends on utilizing 21st century skills.
In order to help people obtain these skills, public libraries today, including BCPL, provide free learning opportunities for adults who are no longer in formal education or are currently in a transition period in their careers. Obtaining new skills as an adult is important because adults’ cognitive abilities continue to develop after they leave formal education. Furthermore, for older adults, educational activities increase the brain’s ability to compensate for age-related changes and regular social interaction is an important predictor of healthy brain aging. As you can see, the benefits of lifelong learning at the Library go far beyond the few hours of being educated or entertained.
For more information about Institute of Museum and Library Studies and the 21st Century skills, visit http://www.imls.gov.
1 – Reder, S. (2009). “The Development of Literacy and Numeracy in Adult Life.” In S. Reder & J. Bynner, Tracking Adult Literacy and Numeracy: Findings from Longitudinal Research (pp. 59–84). New York, NY:
2 – Staying Sharp: Learning as We Age. New York: The Dana Foundation, 2012.