IMCPL Receives ALA "Library of the Future Award"

April 17, 2009

The American Library Association has named the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library the 2009 winner of the ALA/Information Today, Inc. Library of the Future Award. This award is presented annually to a library demonstrating innovative planning and development of patron training programs about information technology in a library setting.

The winning initiative was IMCPL's "The Learning Curve" at Central Library, a programming space (both physical and virtual) that provides a high tech, high energy, hands-on information environment for today's children. In a flexible environment surrounded by books, children in The Learning Curve participate in activities infused with digital elements reflecting the ideal synthesis of technology and traditional literacy that children need to successfully face the future.

From toddlers to teens, children are growing up within an ever-changing world of technology and electronic media. Advancements in the last few years have not just changed how children interact with and use information; they have set new standards for how children learn. Children must be able to effectively access, organize and analyze vast amounts of information, express ideas creatively and make connections that result in new knowledge. To accomplish any of this, children need to be strong readers, good writers and insightful thinkers.

"The Library and the entire Indianapolis community are honored to win this coveted award," stated Chris Cairo, IMCPL Director of Project Development. "Trail blazing can be lonely, so it is gratifying when successful innovation is recognized. Receiving this award encourages the Curve to continue pushing the 'digital envelope' by developing new models for the Library industry," she added.

Through real and virtual activities, kids who attend programs at The Learning Curve have the opportunity to use technology in productive ways that reinforce basic information literacy skills. For example, using a computer, synthesizer and digital camera, kids can make their own digital books, songs, photos or videos. They can then share their creations on the plasma screen with other visitors in The Curve or add them to virtual CurveWorld "galleries."

"The award jury members were impressed by this innovative initiative that provides a 'High Tech Tool Box' for young minds," according to Jury Award Committee Chair Janie Hermann of the Princeton Public Library, Princeton, New Jersey. "The 'Library of the Future' concept is about more than just technological advancement, it is about engaging communities with technology to create a better future. By reinforcing literacy skills in such a unique and interactive environment, IMCPL is providing beneficial learning opportunities for the children they serve," Hermann said.

The Library of the Future Award will be presented on Tuesday, July 14, at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.