PRESS RELEASE: For August 17, 2011 Release
TO: Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise
FROM: Marion County Library
CONTACT: P. Alan Smith, 423-8300
SUBJECT: Library News Column, By P. Alan Smith, Director
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”
-Sydney J. Harris
“A library is not simply a repository of books, it is the symbol and center of our culture - a door and a window for those who might not otherwise have such doors and windows.”
The school year begins this week. All across Marion County teachers are introducing a fresh group of children and teenagers to a world of ideas, and students are deciding how they want to respond to those ideas. These students may accept, reject, or simply ignore each new way of thinking that is presented to them.
If, like most of us, you are no longer a student, education is a little different. It’s entirely up to you. Unlike a student in the classroom, you are not usually confronted with new ideas, facts, and ways of thinking unless you seek them out yourself.
This is where the library comes in. Among other things, we are in the business of providing windows. (I don’t mean the Microsoft operating system, although you are also invited to use one of our public computers!) Each book on our shelves is a glimpse into a different reality, and when you finally close the back cover of a book, you’re a little different, too. All of which is a roundabout way of saying that now is a great time to visit the library, look through one of our tens of thousands of windows, and become a slightly different, and better, version of yourself.
For example, look through our Occupational Outlook Handbook to get on your way to a new career. The handbook features full descriptions of more than 250 occupations—90 percent of the jobs available in the United States. The answers to all of your job-related questions can be found in this handbook: What’s the average salary of a legal assistant? What qualifications, education, and training do I need to become a claims adjustor? Will I find job advancement in this economy as a computer programmer? It also includes job search methods, information on training and education, salary and qualification information, and job outlook. Explore every possible occupational option with this book.
Or learn a new skill by looking through The Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual. This update of the classic 1973 manual has full-color photographs and diagrams on every page. Find out how to fix problems like clogged pipes, broken furniture, or a hole in drywall, or try a larger project like installing a sink, building a deck, replacing windows, or making storage space in the kitchen or garage. This guide is simple enough for beginners but detailed enough to help even experienced homeowners.
On a different note, change the way you think by looking through Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant -- in the blink of an eye -- that actually aren't as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?
In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of "blink": the election of Warren Harding; "New Coke"; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police.
Blink reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of "thin-slicing"-filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.
Finally, in the spirit of going back to school, look through What Your Second Grader Needs to Know and the other titles in the Core Knowledge series. You can use the book to work with your children and supplement their education, or you can use it during breaks as preparation for future material. For homeschoolers it’s a great tool for curriculum development. If you have an elementary school-aged child, this series can help you engage with your child and enrich their education.
These are just four titles that may be able to help you enrich your life and develop personally. Who will you be today?