Libraries Are More Than Just Basic Information

Today in things-that-fuel-my-rage, this article about the death of the library, including this quote:

“I don’t personally use the library. I kind of have the feeling that libraries are going the route of the video rental stores but I’m probably… wrong about that,” said Coun. Ian Paton. “With the access to information now, with everyone having computers in their home, why do we spend so much money?”

My initial reaction:

My second reaction:

Then I finally got around to putting my thoughts into something resembling words.

Libraries are about way more than just accessing information. Sure, when I have a general question (“When was Abraham Lincoln born?” “What’s the difference between flours?”) I turn to the internet. But what about when I need more information than just the basics? That’s when I turn to a library’s resources. Librarians are people who are trained to help you find information. They know way more than just how to Google something, and they have the resources to help you find that information. For example, not all newspaper articles are available online–if you want to read an article from say, 1987, you might want to check with your library. Also, not everyone has internet access at home–but the library sure does.

Also, I don’t know about Paton, but I’m a reader and I can’t always afford (or keep) the books I want to read. Fortunately, the library has books and e-books for free. This is where I cannot understand why anyone would think that library’s aren’t worthwhile. How else are you supposed to get all the books you want to read?

Libraries also offer readings, social events, trainings, etc. A lot of the community loves and depends on events like these. Libraries can also serve as a meeting place for study groups, as an office for writers, or as a safe place for kids and teens to meet and interact.

Basically, I think it’s really short-sighted to assume that the internet can take over pretty much everything a library does. Libraries are invaluable resources for readers and communities, and we need to support them.

(H/T bookshelves of doom)

4 thoughts on “Libraries Are More Than Just Basic Information

  1. Kathy says:

    Libraries subscribe to enormous databases–encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, specialized references–journals, that would cost and thousands and thousands of dollars for individual subscriptions, and librarians let you use them. For free. Librarians will teach you how to use the databases and the Internet. For free. Librarians will spend a half-hour or more every week reading to your children (which is more than some of you yourselves are doing). For free. Librarians will trust you to carry out and return a stack of hardback books worth a bundle with little more than your name and address on file. For free. And when you ask librarians for help, they smile as if you’ve made them the happiest people in the world.

  2. Laura says:

    One of the main services we offer at our reference desk is assistance for people updating resumes and applying for jobs online. Many of our patrons seeking employment are people in their 40’s and 50’s who have been laid off and are now having to re-enter the job hunt in a world that requires computer knowledge on a level they never needed in the past. And it’s not just tech-related jobs, either. Pretty much everything is online now, even job apps for truck drivers.

    That being said, a huge part of what we offer comes in the form of beginning computer workshops, resume building classes, and in-person assistance for patrons needing help in the step by step process of submitting online applications.

    Also, not everyone owns a computer. Not everyone owns a printer. How many people do you know who have a fax machine and copier? In addition to these basic services, the library offers a myriad of free classes, teen and childrens’ programs, book clubs, free access to otherwise exorbitantly expensive online databases and journals, etc etc etc.

    *rage face*

    We have a quote posted in our office – “Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.” ― Anne Herbert

    I think that just about sums up my feelings on the topic.

    <3 Great post. Keep the library love a goin'.

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