Build your own library: What we can learn from Jefferson and Franklin

LibraryToday was the start of the third part of a six part series on informal learning. Today’s session focused on building your own knowledge library. I believe we can learn a lot from Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. Each of these gentlemen were avid readers and prolific writers. The personal library that Jefferson donated to the Library of Congress had 6,487 volumes. Franklin was the father of the public library. But more importantly were the writings of these two gentlemen. Jefferson has approximately 27,000 documents he wrote on file at the Library of Congress. Yale University has forty volumes of 30,000 papers from Franklin.

I think reading and writing made these founding fathers who they were. They found the written word to a powerful method for conveying ideas and sharing knowledge. Franklin was not a fan of intellectual property and believe in the free sharing of information. I feel as Extension educators and instructional technologists, we have almost a duty to share what we know with others through blogs, wikis, image and video libraries. We should capture what we know and continuously build upon it, just as Jefferson and Franklin did in their time.

  • Blogs are great tools for capturing personal ideas reflective of the moment.
  • Wikis are powerful tools for amassing information that can be searched by others. More importantly it can be created through the cooperation of others.
  • Video libraries created on tools like YouTube can capture processes and history. Playlists can be created to share knowledge on a topic.
  • Image libraries can be created to capture change over time or simply a snapshot of a time and place.

These are tools available for you to build your own library. Take time to capture your personal reflections in a blog. Create an image wing in your library along with a video wing. Use a wiki to build a knowledge base available to you and others. It is a not a quick or easy project, but over time it will prove to be valuable; perhaps as valuable as the Jefferson and Franklin libraries.

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