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6 - Lifelong learning

from Part 2 - Service themes of the modern public library

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2018

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Summary

Introduction

Lifelong learning is the concept that learning is not something that is only undertaken within formal structures such as schools, colleges or universities, but that humans learn throughout their life, often informally, such as through reading a book, attending a seminar or watching a documentary, in addition to the formal learning they undertake at key stages of their life.

Public libraries are key facilitators in lifelong learning because:

  • ■ they are open to all citizens

  • ■ they provide access to a range of learning materials free

  • ■ they are easily accessible with relatively convenient opening hours

  • ■ they increasingly offer instructional courses using ICTs and partnerships.

  • This chapter will discuss the role of the public library in lifelong learning, the modern political aspects of the concept, and the pressures on library services as a result, and how public libraries have responded to the concept through specific service delivery.

    What is lifelong learning?

    Lifelong learning has been defined as ‘a deliberate progression throughout the life of an individual, where the initial acquisition of knowledge and skills is reviewed and upgraded continuously, to meet challenges set by an ever-changing society’ (Brophy, Fisher and Craven, 1998). It can be seen to be different from the structured learning which takes place in schools, further and higher education establishments. It is more informal in nature, can be picked up and completed at leisure and is learner-centred in that it can be engaged with in whichever way the learner desires.

    Crucially conventional education is exclusive in nature, as progress normally requires prior qualifications; lifelong learning does not rely solely on qualification attainment and can be as meaningful to the learner in the form of attending short seminars or evening classes as it is in attending year-long certificate-bearing courses. The needs and wants of users vary at different parts of their life, and those providing lifelong learning recognize that informal learning may well be enough to satisfy a user need in some cases.

    The specific concepts of lifelong learning and conventional education and their differences are elucidated clearly in a report entitled Distributing the Library to the Learner (Brophy, 1999). See Table 6.1.

    Type
    Chapter
    Information
    The Public Library
    , pp. 95 - 106
    Publisher: Facet
    Print publication year: 2008

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