I came across a cool article in one of the mainstream – and thus non-library – magazines yesterday on basically what a public library is like in the early 21st century.
And I think this article is cool because it offers more evidence of what I’ve seen with my own two eyes in the 29 years since I first started working in library land and that is the fact that in the last ten to twelve years public library usage has grown dramatically and changed just as dramatically.
And I say usages has changed dramatically because It used to be that the main role of a public library was to provide print books and print research resources for patrons. And we still do that! However, our number 1 role today – which is one we assume by popular demand of our patrons – can be summed up in one word – technology.
And what do I mean by “technology” as regards to public library usage?
For a start I mean offering patrons:
Free access to Internet connected computers
Free access to software on those computers (i.e. Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher)
Free access to online e-books, audiobooks, videos and music
Free access to free (did I mention it was free?) tech assistance from members of our tech staff (so if you just got a new PC, tablet or other device or want to know how to use the Internet, email, Word or other online services, hardware or software including how to create and use an email address or a digital resume to submit online you can come to the library and have staff asset you!)
And free access to credible online databases in a variety of categories– think of them as humungous encyclopedias for personal and professional research because contrary to popular belief the most credible information found online isn’t always available for free nor available simply by a Google search (and when I say free as regards to the library’s database – I mean the library or the library system has to pay for the database – they are free for patrons to use!)
And I will now get off my soap box!
Suffice it to say public libraries today are indeed long on technology in answer to the popular demand of our patrons!
And here is a link to the Time Magazine article on just that subject titled “The Future of Libraries: Short on Books, Long on Tech”
Have a great evening!
Rock, Margaret. (2013, June 25). The Future of Libraries: Short on Books, Long on Tech: This isn’t your childhood library. http://techland.time.com/2013/06/25/the-future-of-libraries-short-on-books-long-on-tech/