Sunday, September 19, 2010

Libraries do more than warehouse books

In a library, surrounded by book-laden shelves, Cynthia M. Parkhill's Bitstrips cartoon avatar and another cartoon woman sit at a table that has laptops arranged at each of the table's four settings
Cartoon image created with Bitstrips and added July 13, 2016
“[T]hose who see themselves as the keepers of books will be shelved themselves, and those who demonstrate that they can help solve other people’s information, imagination, and inspiration problems will always be in demand” (39)
Libraries in the Information Age
by Denise K. Fourie and David R. Dowell
Each week when I pull hold requests at the Lakeport branch of the Lake County Library, the lion’s share of patron requests are among fiction and non­fiction books; however, library patrons are also requesting DVDs, audio CDs and books on CD or cassette.

A bank of computers provides Internet access through a Gates Foundation grant; these are always in use and have to be reserved in advance. Patrons also bring laptops and connect to the Internet via the free WiFi services.

Students are able to take tests remotely for their online courses; one of my fellow library volunteers offers to serve as a proctor.

I subscribe to Facebook and e­mail updates from (ALA) and am always learning about interesting new projects such as “Gaming Day” in public libraries. This month, it is drawing attention to challenges brought against books. A Banned Books Week display is also on view at the Lakeport Library.

My direct experience supports the authors’ quote: Our library does much more than warehouse books. It is an active resource for needed information, whatever form that information may take.

What is a Library?
I have been exposed to all four types of libraries: public, school, academic and special, in my life. I agree with the authors that each library is different, that it has a distinct mission and serves a specific type of customer.

In my own experience, I’ve noticed more and more libraries that are being built today on K­12 campuses bear the title “library and media center.”

The Konocti Unified School District facilities place great emphasis upon video ­conferencing technology so that a presenter at one school can be linked to students at other schools simultaneously. Distance is no longer a factor when making school presentations or consulting with various specialists; they communicate remotely.

Even so, when I look back upon my days at my own K­12 school libraries, I remember them as places where I could browse among books for hours.

My experience with special libraries comes from administering a library for my Unitarian Universalist (UU) community. This congregation has very different needs than the library­going public. I try to stock it with books that specifically address the UU theology. A public library would not serve this population with the same targeted emphasis.

At the same time, I believe that my organizational and promotional efforts on behalf of my congregation’s library could easily have their counterparts in public, school or academic library settings.

Composed for Cuesta College’s LIBT 101: Introduction to Library Services

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