As usual, the New York Times has some interesting news about higher education: Middlebury College students are working to help the small town of Starksboro, VT preserve its historic community, monuments, and land use. They’re interviewing residents about what they value most in their community, and in the process they’re learning about what really makes a small town tick.
This sounds like a terrific example of breaking down the gates that separate the ivory tower from the “real world,” whatever that is. Service learning and community engagement always get me excited, and I’d love to see libraries participating and fostering this kind of work more often. It’s good for students, it’s good for the community, and it’s good for the image and development of the university. As higher ed struggles to redefine itself in a tight global economy, I think we need to find more ways to reach outside our labs and offices (and libraries) and start helping each other out.