In the information age the challenge is to break through the information glut to find the useful knowledge, meaningand understanding needed at that moment. University of the Book (UBook) offers an easy path to educational, vocational, civic, or hobbyist knowledge; a path guiding “searchers” to the information they need right now, for work, play, or life.
Reading remains the essential learning skill but reportedly is “at risk” in American society, especially among the young (NEA 2007). Uncovering and stimulating intrinsic interest to encourage voluntary reading is at the heart of this initiative.
The more that you read… the more places you’ll go. –Dr. Seuss
The Book as Experience: For centuries books provided the gateway to learning. Past generations of isolated seekers learned by reading books. Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, and author Richard Wright exemplify this from the American experience. Today, reading is no longer the dominant path to learning but remains a useful method for many.
Books are invaluable for profound learning; supplemented with human contact and mentoring, the “right” book can become an experience that “makes a difference,” shaping important life decisions and commitments.
Librarians are skilled at guiding learners—individually and in groups—to resolution of their information needs, and they do not seek to recruit the searcher to their school or course of study. This tradition positions the library to play a prominent role in this alternative learning path. Associated scholars and specialists likewise participate when their special knowledge matches a seekers’ quest. UBook makes these connections effortlessly available either online (OnL), face-to-face (F2F), or a combination of both.
A book can be a passport to anytime (past, present, future), anywhere (real world or imaginary), with anyone (living, dead, or fictional).
UBook’s larger vision is to foster development of a widespread and enduring culture of learning.
Knowledge is being transformed
- The half-life (value) of information is shrinking steadily.
- Traditional education, which transfers what is already known, can be insufficient for dealing with new problems not yet sufficiently understood—or even named and defined.
- New knowledge becomes real, meaningful when it is in the learner’s mind—or extended mind-space (Ogle 2007)—in some usable form.
- “Usability” means that knowledge is social and contextual and enables people to “do something”.
- As a result, connections with knowledgeable people and other seekers is necessary in the quest for meaning and better understanding.
- A significant process of redefining knowledge is underway, and much of it is happening outside traditional education.
UBook Associates participate in that redefinition, transformation, and search for meaning and are committed to share their knowledge just as they continue their own quests and seek guidance from others. UBook’s use of inquiry and discovery methods offer a navigable path to self education; this system provides a much needed alternative path to learning.
Everyone a learner; everyone a teacher.
New technologies such as weblogs, wikis, wireless mobility, and texting, and social programs like Facebook and Twitter, support the flexible learning—both OnL and F2F—that characterizes the behavior of the net/millennial generation in particular. Many libraries provide this support, for free, to their community.
Meanwhile, a universe of well-ordered, well-preserved, authoritative, and enduring knowledge resides in thousands of locations in communities across the developed world. In libraries.
UBook utilizes society’s enormous investment in the well-organized and presented print, media, and online resources of the library to support the learner’s quest for knowledge anytime, anyplace, by any means. By connecting learners, guides, and resources, UBook brings a new level of meaning, purpose, and revenues—and thereby greater sustainability—to this enduring institution.