Why the Public Library Will Still be Relevant in Years to Come
The Public Library
Public libraries have been existed in the United States since the 18th Century. Those early libraries allowed common people who could not afford to buy expensive books, the ability to learn, keep up with current issues, and entertain themselves with books and newspapers. This ability to have access to the exact same books, journals, and studies that the educated, wealthy, and politicians had was a revolutionary idea.
Today there are mixed opinions about what the public library is doing to stay relevant. Opponents of the library say that they have lost confidence in the role they play with the boom of the world wide web and E-Books. Also these same people don't want their tax dollars used on non-traditional materials and services. Supporters tend to celebrate the changing libraries and love the fact that libraries are still a beacon of information.
Public libraries are keeping up with the public's demand to watch videos, play music, download files, and play games over the Internet. Libraries are very liberal as to what one can access and do on their computers. Some libraries have policies in place to block adult content, some do not.
Another argument that is heard about the library is that all of the information that libraries have can be found on the Internet for free. This is a very incorrect statement. First of all, the information that the library holds has had a cost associated with the content. The books, the databases, the movies, the music and so on, have been paid for. If someone thinks that they can find "full" free access to these types of information, they have another thing coming.
In order to find authoritative and peer checked research and articles, libraries pay for subscriptions to scholarly databases. These databases allow one to search published articles from journals and online journals. This material can not be found for free on the Internet. Also, the Internet allows people to download e-books for a cost. Online vendors are not giving these books away for free. This trumps the argument about free materials. The only place it is free is at your local public library.
Librarians have been called Jack's of all Trades in their knowledge about a wide range of topics. Librarians are constantly going to conferences, seminars, online meetings, and webinars to learn more about the technological advances that are being made. For the most part, libraries have been told to embrace the technology.
This is why programming at the library has changed from just kids programs and book discussions to social meeting training, computer classes, online jobs searches, web design, e-reader training, and video game tournaments. The adults along with the kids are going to these programs and keeping up with the technology themselves. The library is a major factor in learning and adapting to today's 24/7 world. These programs are all free to the public and covering a wide range of technological areas.
The popularity of Ebooks has grown substantially in the last few years. Inventions like the Nook and the Kindle have made reading cool again. Some people still want to hold a physical book when reading, but there are many out there that enjoy the Ebook's features. This could add to the argument that libraries aren't keeping up with the changes in reading technology. But, that is not true. Many library consortium are investing and buying ebooks for patrons to download and check out for a time period. So essentially these are free ebooks for the public to view. This new and expanding service is encompassing all patrons that cannot afford or want to buy the digital version of their favorite books. So not only do libraries have large collections of print materials; the digital materials are becoming available more and more everyday.
Libraries are also lending out these devices to patrons with books preloaded on them. This has been quite a success and are constantly in demand.
Maker Bot 3D Printing
A relatively new service area coming to some libraries are Maker's Lab. A Maker's Lab is a dedicated space is that allows patrons to create their very own projects. The projects that can be developed include crafts, music, video, websites, photos, and access to 3D Printers.
These labs cost quite a bit of money because of the physical space, software, equipment and materials. Libraries tend to look for outside grants and donations to cover the costs. These Labs are starting to become the 21st century shift in Public Library Services. Another Hub will be posted soon with greater depth about this.
Here to Stay
Public Libraries will be around for a long time to come. Granted they might change their focus and how they provide information services, but their importance to society will always be needed. Finding authoritative information online is not the easiest thing to do. That is why librarians are trained in accurate Information Intelligence. Libraries are a free service (small tax burden) for everyone in the community. Everyone is encouraged to visit and utilize them. The public library is only getting stronger and will adapt to society's changes throughout time. That is why they are relevant.....and they rock!!!!