Friday, May 23, 2008

Public Libraries, Community Colleges and One-Stop Centers. No. 526.

The term, "workforce," has become a pervasive descriptor of workers during the Bush administration. Public libraries--once the people's university--have been dropped from policy discussions of lifelong learning. This may well be because librarians have not been part of the move to characterize human beings as members of the "workforce," as a substitute for their being individuals with capabilities of creativity and humanity.

The long history of public librarians providing adult education and literacy support has been outlined in the essay, “Public policy as a factor influencing adult lifelong learning, adult literacy and public libraries,” [Reference and User Services Quarterly 42, pp. 66-75 by McCook and Barber]. In that essay, the lack of connection between library practice and adult educators is explored. The growing strength of the capitalist class has had a negative effect on adult education. The distribution of life chances decreases as the power of the organized working class decreases (Rubenson, 2005). Literacy has been appropriated by politician’s wives as a lady bountiful sort of activity with small grants going to feel-good projects through programs such as the Barbara Bush Foundation.

There is simply no literature in librarianship to address the theory and the context of adult education, and we have been bought off by literacy programs funded by corporations. Librarians have become part of the “learn to earn” movement rather than holding a richer “learn to live” motivation[see Rubenson, K. (2005) “Social class and adult education policy,” New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 106, pp. 15-25].

As an example of this move to a workforce mentality see:
From the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) we have this report we have this report --"Community Colleges and One-Stop Centers Collaborate to Meet 21st Century Workforce Needs."
This recently issued U.S. Government Accountability Office report examined (1) how community colleges meet the workforce training needs of their communities; (2) what community colleges do to integrate with the nation's one-stop system; (3) the conditions or practices that enhance or impede these efforts; and (4) the actions the Departments of Labor and Education have taken to encourage linkages between community colleges and the workforce investment system, including one-stops.

For "Community Colleges and One-Stop Centers Collaborate to Meet 21st
Century Workforce Needs" in pdf. click here.

The Department of Labor website Workforce3 One highlights information and promising practices on workforce issues, including the role that community colleges play. Workforce3 One offers workforce professionals, employers, economic development, and education professionals a dynamic knowledge network featuring workforce solutions. Online learning events, resource information, and tools help organizations with strategies that enable individuals to be successful in the 21st century economy by understanding the skills and competencies needed by business and industry.

1 comment:

Candee Basford said...

Love this entry- in particular the idea that the library is the people's university.

I'm a huge fan of adult education, not so much for literacy, per se, but for knowing, creativity, learning from experience, citizenship, hope for society - not to mention a way to counter corporate influence and give people back their power.

In that same vein, the library could be more of a gathering place for small groups of learners, as opposed to individuals learning (shhhh). Think the Highlander Center....rocking chairs pulled into a circle for dialogue, listening and formation of the next step.