Should the libraries be actively included in adult education? Should adult educators use everything that these rich vaults of knowledge have to offer? And how?
The role of libraries in adult education and lifelong learning simply cannot be ignored. The majority of people of all ages visit libraries without being aware that in doing so they engage in a learning process. Besides children and youth libraries are also regular visited by younger and older adults who enjoy in the libraries' offer. Some visit libraries because of the company: “I always meet someone at the library. At least the librarian is always there.” Some, especially older visitors highly appreciate the possibility to use the computer: “I visit the library every day to check my email and read the news on the Internet.” Moreover, they also have newspapers. However, others enjoy the social and other events organised by the library: “Last year I started to attend the reading club meetings. I like the fact that I can discuss, what I read, with others and that we can socialise.” In the library people of all generations can find something for themselves, learn something new, socialise or find a new way for spending their leisure time.
* The source of photo material: Ljubljana City Library
From newspapers to computers, but primarily informal education and company
Some people might think that they are the only one interested in a specific topic, willing to try a new thing or learn something. But this is definitely not the case. Many adults also come to the library to familiarise themselves with new technology and acquire new knowledge. Many form new friendships and also socialise outside the library. There are many regular visitors of various events, lectures and presentations organised by the libraries for their users and others interested in the relevant topic. This is a place where people meet others, socialise and learn. Authors and artists are also of great value due to their willingness to share their work and knowledge with the visitors. And this is how we always learn something new!
Each library is also equipped with a reading room with numerous and diverse newspapers and magazines available to visitors free of charge, as well as encyclopaedias and other resources which cannot be found in every home or at every (education) institution. Here, the knowledge is always near at hand and this is the main reason why people like to browse and read unknown publications and continue to gain new knowledge. Computer corners are another popular place of interest besides the reading rooms. Free access to computers and the Internet has attracted many adults who could also attend a free computer course offered by the library. People are curious beings who like to know things and learn, especially through informal education forms.
Library as a part of formal education
Adult educators in Slovenia are usually active members of at least one Slovenian library. Meet their advantages and find out, how you can exploit the library as an adult educator or bring the adult learners closer to the library. Talk to the librarians and ask them to help you present the library and its offer. The offer should appeal to both beginners, as well as advanced adult learners, who wish to upgrade their knowledge. Let adult learners become regular visitors of the library since this will allow them to successfully upgrade the bases taught and provided by you.
As one of the smartest persons in the history of mankind, Albert Einstein once said: “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” Present your library to adult learners! Remember that learning is a lifelong process in which the library can and should play a significant role.
Simona Kavčič, Slovenian Institute for Adult Education
Simona Kavčič is e member of staff in the field of promotional and information activities at the Slovenia Institute for Adult Education. She is in charge of its library and tries to approach the library to all people interested, involved or participating in adult education. She is inspired by active people of all ages, who – through their activities – enrich their personal lives as well as the lives of others.