Comment history

Libraries are limited, obsolete

The following is an excerpt of a post I made on my own website as a response to this ill-informed piece:
First, to the author of the piece: when was the last time you were in the library, sir? Did you bother to check your facts before writing your article? Probably not. My guess is that you, for whatever reason, have no concept of what a modern day library is like, and are instead functioning under the disillusion that the library is still what it was when you went to school decades ago.

Visiting the Lawrence Public Library's website, I find that they offer twenty online databases, offering full-text magazine and newspaper articles, among many other things. In my experience, these online periodical databases have the latest issue of the magazine or newspaper even before it hits the shelves. So, in this case, guess what? The library is offering information that is more up to date than you can find anywhere else. And 99% of this information is NOT AVAILBLE ON THE OPEN WEB. You will not find this stuff through search engines or any other free source online.

The Internet is actually quite limited. Only a small percentage of the world's data and knowledge is in digital format at all, much less available to the public at all, much less available on the open web to find through search engines. That said, the Internet is a valuable tool that librarians use for research assistance every day...but it's just that: one tool in a toolkit of many other tools that your local librarians know about and want to share with you.

I will agree with you on one point: single sources for information verification are dangerous. That's why librarians don't rely on a single source--we help you find multiple sources, and help you verify their validity and reliability before we recommend them as good sources.

Most libraries across the country have led the way in bringing these new technologies into the hands of their community members. For example, your library is available via e-mail to answer reference questions (also by phone and in-person). There is also a live tutor service available online through your library that will connect (for free) students with a professional tutor via a form of instant messaging to help them with their homework.

19th century? Wow. Your library offers downloadable audiobooks, videogame tournaments for teens, online library card applications, free wireless, free popular online magazines and newspapers, and free live online tutors for your kids. I don't think you can get much more 21st century than that.

The funny thing at the end of it all is that this gentleman is a perfect example of why we still desperately do need libraries in our communities--to provide access to the world of information and to teach the research skills that he so clearly lacks.

October 3, 2006 at 8:54 p.m. ( | suggest removal )