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Library Guides Learning

Monday 8, 2018 at 4:02 PM

Hinsdale Library

Last week the Library Board and members of the Library’s Management Team participated in a workshop for our next Strategic Plan. As part of our “homework” for the meeting, we were asked to select a few articles on trends to read in advance. One that nearly everyone chose was The Guardian’s “Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound.”

Here’s what we learned. When we are multi-tasking and getting information from a limitless source like the Internet, it is advantageous to skim. When we do that repeatedly, however, it changes the environment in which our “reading circuit” operates. Meaning we literally lose capacity to do slow, critical reading.

The author argues, “We need to cultivate a new kind of brain: a “bi-literate” reading brain capable of the deepest forms of thought in either digital or traditional mediums.” One way to do this is by creating and prioritizing opportunities for focused, critical reading, reflection, and discourse.

So, the good news is –there’s hope! Even better news for libraries—it revolves around some of the stuff that we do best.

To borrow a literary idiom, if you want to go “down a rabbit hole” of information, there is no more hospitable place than a library. As reference and footnote lead to abstract and article, you never know where the next citation might lead you.

Of course, we don’t always have the time for leisurely deep dive into a new topic. Which is why the library also presents classes, lectures, and discussions on subjects of interest to the community.

For example, on Monday, October 22, we will present “On Topic: Modern China.” We will have a moderated panel discussion on life in and observations of contemporary China. Panelists include: Susan Blumberg-Kason who documented her years in a Chinese family as a wife, daughter-in-law, and mother in her memoir “Good Chinese Wife.”

Margaret Carsello Chiappetta is an interdisciplinary artist, connecting her practice to converging themes around the complexities of identity and belonging in the intersections of family, memory, place, and time. Margaret’s current exhibit can be seen in the Library’s Quiet Room.  “New China: Performance of Self in Digital Culture” reflects her experiences living in Beijing while teaching at a Chinese public school.

Z.J. Tong is the founder and president of the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute.  He is a Chinese culture, cross-cultural training and cross-cultural marketing expert.

Books referenced in the discussion will include “Our Story: A Memoir of Love and Life in China” by Rao Pingru and Nicky Harman and “Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World” by Zak Dychtwald. Copies of both books area available to check out at the Library if you’re inspired to learn more before or after the program.

You’re guaranteed to hear at least one thing that makes you want to learn more. And whether you want so skim headlines about tariffs or sink into Evan Osnos’ National Book Award winner, “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China,” the Library can help you with that.

Cited: Wolf, Maryanne. “Skim Reading Is the New Normal. The Effect on Society Is Profound | Maryanne Wolf.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 25 Aug. 2018,

Karen Keefe is the Executive Director of the Hinsdale Public Library