EDUCATION MATTERS: Summer reading

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By Hayley Woodin

Trips to the library were a big part of my childhood. With big, ambitious cloth bags and a vague code of conduct – ‘no running, no yelling, no dive-bombing’ – my dad would take me and my sister to the Cloverdale Library to stock up on enough reading material to last a summer week or two.

In later years, we would find ourselves cooling off at the Semiahmoo Library in South Surrey. Wherever the location, it was a family ritual that fostered the love of books, stories and learning I hold today.

I still feel a sense of wonder when I find myself in a library or bookstore. Part of that is no doubt habit and nostalgia, but in large part it’s the thought of being physically surrounded by an anthology of centuries of knowledge, stories, ideas and art. So in an age where virtually everything can be read about, researched and purchased online, I guess I remain slightly “old-fashioned.”

That said, I think the world of physical books, and browsing bookshelves without pop-up recommendations based on ‘likes’ or your Google search history, is a culture in itself, and one I hope doesn’t get left behind.

It’s so easy – too easy – to find online the information you think you want to know, and feel satisfied. A search doesn’t even have to be specific and somehow algorithms will give you answers. The web is quite accurately just that: a tool that acts as a massive web with the capacity to capture large bodies of information, compared to what our manual searches would call up without it.

One way isn’t better than the other. But I strongly believe there is something to be said for the skillset needed to search for information sans the help of Google, Wikipedia or Bing.

Knowing where to look and how to look for things are important when searching for answers that are complex, or kept hidden. The art of precision and the ability to condense and distil questions, concepts and theories in an information age is also useful, and easier to do in an arena where everything doesn’t link to everything else, and by consequent, appear relevant.

I’m fortunate to have a library at work – the Surrey campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University – with access to a phenomenal collection of novels, textbooks and journals to stoke my curiosity and spur my imagination.

As a library that supports the needs of students and faculty, its shelves offer different options than those in local public libraries. Another great feature: all KPU libraries are open to the public.

Anyone living in B.C. over 14 years old can get a Community Borrower card free of charge. And with a whole month left of beach days and evenings on patios, stopping by to borrow a few books from your local university is a trip worth taking this summer.

For information on getting a library card, and for KPU library hours and locations – there are four throughout Metro Vancouver; one on each campus – visit: kpu.ca/library.

Hayley Woodin is Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Media Specialist. KPU offers the Metro Vancouver area over 124 programs through campuses in Surrey, Cloverdale, Richmond and Langley. Learn about what over 19,000 students learn annually at www.kpu.ca.