Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are Libraries Obsolete?

Who needs libraries if you have Google and ebooks? A lot of people! Let me tell you why I think we will always need libraries. (Yes, I know I'm biased, but I'm also right.)

If a library was nothing but a building full of printed material, it might be obsolete - but it's not. As a matter of fact, our attendance figures are higher than they've ever been. Why? Look at the tag line on our website: your community center for information, technology, and culture. That explains it all.

Your Library is part of your community. It has people in it - both staff and patrons. Computers are not shared experiences - libraries are. While browsing the new books, you could ask your neighbor standing next to you what she has read lately - or ask a librarian for recommendations. You could participate in a program. You can hold a meeting of your organization. You can have books read to your children - or they can learn how to draw from an artist. You can ask for help with any kind of project. Let's face it, computers are nice, but people are much more important.

You can get information at your Library that is simply not available anywhere else. Look at a copy of the Natchez Democrat from the 1800's - or an old Natchez High annual - or a Natchez phone directory from the early days. When you look something up on Google, you frequently have no idea of its authenticity. But your Reference Librarian can show you how to use our collection of many databases that are not available via the internet - or cost mucho money to use elsewhere. Also, you may not even know how to get started looking for something, but your librarian does.

And if you want technology, your Library has it.  We may have the largest and most up to date collection of computers in our area, and they're all available FREE. We even have special computers with programs just for children - and they are almost always being used. Because Mississippi is the poorest state in the country, many of our citizens cannot afford the latest in technology. But everyone has access to the Library. Libraries have always been the great equalizers in society by making knowledge available to everyone regardless of economic status.

No community is complete without its culture, and the Library is its repository. You might be surprised at some of the programs that have been offered at your Library. (Follow us on facebook or twitter and find out.) We carry books by local and state authors. Some people think the New York Times (especially Sunday's) is the place to go for the latest in the national cultural scene. However, it's no longer available free online, but it is available free at your Library. By the way, there are those who think more and more of online information will be fee based - making Libraries even more important.

In summary, don't cut up your Library card just yet. You're going to be needing it for a long time to come.

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