American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s public library legacy was built on a boyhood dream: to acquire knowledge. Carnegie believed in “the meritocratic nature of America,” that anyone “with the right inclination and desire could educate himself” and therefore succeed, and that libraries should contribute directly to that.
So what are libraries doing lending out toys and holding game nights? Aren’t American kids’ test scores lagging behind those of pretty much the rest of the world? Shouldn’t American public libraries be, as Carnegie wanted, educating? Recent studies, and librarians themselves, say otherwise.
In a study with 70 six-year olds, psychologists at the University of Colorado found that the children who engaged in more free play had a “more highly developed self-directed executive function” than those who had spent more time in “structured activities,” that were adult-led rather than child-initiated."