photo from Future Ready with the Library cohort 3 memberRecently the Aspen Institute Education and Society Program sponsored a panel discussion in connection with the publication of the book, No Longer Forgotten: The Triumph and Struggles of Rural Education in America. I was particularly interested in this discussion because of the ARSL and YALSA Future Ready with the Library project that is funded by IMLS.

I was able to watch the livestream of the discussion and am very happy I did. I found the entire discussion of value and think that many library staff will too. A few of the conversation points that I want to think about more include:

  • The importance of not focusing on one-size-fits-all for any community and that definitely includes rural communities. No two rural communities are the same and while there are similarities each has a unique makeup and history that needs to be considered when developing services.
  • The reality that funders often look for funding opportunities that can reach a large number of youth quickly and in one fell swoop. That isn’t as easily achieved in rural settings as it is in urban and suburban settings.
  • The fact that college may not look appealing to rural families as it’s often seen that the youth that go to college do not come back to their rural community to live and have a career. As a result students may graduate high school but not leave so that they can continue to be a part of the rural community that they grew up in. As a result college readiness is not something that may appeal or be seen as valuable in some rural communities.
  • The idea that quality teaching may be more important in rural communities (where there are fewer opportunities overall for youth) however rural communities tend not to have the ability to hire the best teachers for their school systems. This is just one of the equity issues that face rural schools.

That’s just a small list of the topics covered in this engrossing conversation. You can check it out for yourself by watching the video below.

And, if you work in a library in a rural, small, or tribal community you might want to apply for the fourth cohort of the Future Ready with the Library project. You can learn more on the YALSA website.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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