Did you know that libraries provide a lot more than just free books? They have other free materials, of course: DVDs, music CDs, video games, and lots of digital content (ebooks, eaudiobooks, etc). But libraries are a lot more than the free stuff we keep inside them.
Right now, your library is helping someone develop their resume, learn how to use the computer, and find a job. They’re connecting someone to specialized community resources for debt management. They’re helping seniors create their very first email accounts so they can communicate with their grandchildren, and they’re helping those same grandchildren develop a life-long love of reading.
During the course of this day your library will answer hundreds of questions. From the simple query to the complicated research process, your library helps people find information and, more importantly, helps them learn how to find information. And your library is hipper than you might think; they’re not only answering questions in-person and over the phone, they’re answering questions online, too, in live chat sessions, and they’re answering questions sent to them via SMS, via IM, via Facebook and Twitter. Your librarians may even be on social reference sites like Quora, sharing their expertise right under your nose.
A recent article about librarians called them “genuine saints”, because they do all this without ever thinking about profit margins. Librarians help because they’re driven to help, and they’ll never get rich doing it. In fact, many libraries are cutting staff, cutting hours, and cutting away layers of their expertise. Why? Because they aren’t getting your support.
Libraries need your support. They need your vote, your donations, your outspoken acclaim. Librarians need you to stand up and speak for them because they, like many saints, are too humble to speak for themselves.
Libraries don’t put out fires, unless you count the fires of ignorance. They don’t prevent crime, unless you count the crimes of thoughtlessness. They don’t build roads, unless you count a thousand roads to knowledge. Libraries are as important, and as worthy of your tax dollars, as fire departments, police departments, and road maintenance.
If you think the library is great, but just for other people, think again. Your library has a lot of new tricks up its sleeve, and something is bound to appeal. Ask them; they may have ebooks for your Kindle, an app for your iPhone, games for your Xbox, or audiobooks for your commute. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Whatever you do, though, support your local library. Vote for them. Speak up for them. Libraries are amazing, they’re cost-effective, and they’re unique, and if they are allowed to fade away, there will be nothing there to take their place.
“[R]eference librarians are both incredibly well-informed about the infoverse AND incredibly happy to tell you everything they know in order to make you a better researcher. I like that. I like it a lot—they’re not out to make a dime from every transaction, but they’re genuine saints who want nothing more than to teach you how to do the search on your own and make you self-sufficient. You have to admire that in these days of unrelenting grabs for every last surcharge for expertise.”—Daniel M. Russell - SearchReSearch: Why libraries?
As I have traveled, I have found libraries to be a place where senior citizens congregate, a place to send e-mails to family members, to take on-line courses, or learn about the rest of the world.
Libraries have always been an essential component in the fabric of our rural communities. They expand our educational, social, and economic opportunities. They are a place where neighbors converse (quietly of course), where diverse cultural experiences are shared, where inquiring minds are filled with knowledge, and where digital divides are bridged.
Librarians are polite and service-oriented. Our deans and directors may get red under the collar while pitching for funds in the provost’s office, but to all outward appearances, we’re doing just fine, and can we help you find something, dear?
Librarians do not agitate. People hear about the university budget cuts, but we rarely point out - loudly - what this means for the library, and those who use its resources. perhaps its time to let folks know what exactly lack of funds is doing to the libraries they use without thinking about what it takes to keep them running. No one would dare suggest that you can reduce teaching faculty and still maintain a high quality curriculum, but that’s exactly the picture we paint when we let our library users think that our services and resources are unscathed.
Why are we still trying to lock textbooks to a specific device? You could just as easily turn a textbook into a web page, have students pay to access their textbooks, keep the interactivity, and make the textbooks MUCH more accessible. Also, since the textbooks would be in the cloud, students could access them from anywhere, and there would be more opportunities for online collaboration surrounding textbooks content, note-taking, study, etc.
“If that’s right, then not only don’t you own the software you buy, but any copyright owner can simply recite the magic words and effectively outlaw libraries, used bookstores, and DVD rentals, among other things,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation wrote in a February blog post while awaiting the court’s decision.”—
“The profession seems to be sinking. Maybe not the whole profession, but research and archiving and cataloging and acquisitions parts. There will probably always be a place for Children’s librarians. But for everyone else, the conventions are still going where some celebrity tell a heart-warming story about a childhood love of books, and some futurist says that librarians need to evolve to survive and we applaud and cheer without realizing that 99 percent of evolution involves extinction.”—the.effing.librarian: The sun will come out…. tomorrow…