I took a few days of vacation and found myself visiting a university campus. I guess I was impressed with some of the updates that had occurred on that campus to create an environment designed for collaboration and innovation. Of particular note were the changes in the library. The books had been moved, actually consolidated onto shelves that literally moved so that the stacks did not take up as much floor space (or real estate). The main floor had been transformed into a collaboration area with small organized spaces for groups of students. These areas had been outfitted with white boards, computers, even charging stations for whatever electronic devices the students may bring with them. And the library was full, groups of students were everywhere, white boards with scribbled math problems and notes about social science research…and it’s summer time! The walls were the same walls that had stood for 100 years, it was truly how they had made the library about the students that was different. Those librarians had listened….this library was no longer about the books, but instead about the potential of fostering collaboration and learning. That library had managed to leap frog forward and become the place for students to work…more students than were in the student center.
This probably is a weird vacation by many of your standards…but for me, it was priceless as it gave me time to reflect upon my own profession. Extension is important, it has been for as long as that library has been standing. We however, as Extension professionals need to reflect upon our practices to make sure we are teaching and embracing practices that are meeting the needs of our clientele in order to stay relevant, and in order to maintain demand for what we offer within the walls of Extension. What do we need to do to leap frog forward?