When you step into a library, you step into a bigger world. The library is your local one-stop shop of resources and individuals to help you discover information about any topic at any time. The world of information is changing and libraries are evolving to meet the needs facing our community members today.
The public library is the starting place for whatever you want to do next. From planting a garden, to enrolling in college, to changing careers, the library has information to help you on your way. It is the place where people often turn during life’s transitions.
To illustrate this phenomenon, books on filing for divorce are requested at least as frequently as books on wedding planning. It is almost impossible to keep copies of the ASVAB, a timed multi-aptitude test, preparation texts in the library because they are in constant demand. The same is true for books on career planning, writing a resume and interviewing for jobs.
The library is a valued source of free computers and Internet access. Years ago, it became apparent that computers would change forever the way we work and communicate. The information age is the new standard and those without access to the Internet face a huge disadvantage.
With the help of grants, primarily from the Gates Foundation, libraries across the country have adapted to new technologies and made them freely available to the public. Not only are the public access computers constantly in use, but there is an increasing reliance on the library’s WiFi. It is interesting to see young children in the library taking advantage of the wireless Internet connection with their iPads. At the other end of the spectrum, older citizens come to learn more about social networking sites like Shutterfly, a popular online photo-sharing program.
The library helps people find the information they need in an increasingly complex world. Through the Internet, we have access to a wealth of information but, all too often, what we find is misinformation. It is hard to cut through the advertising and opinions to find content that is unbiased and accurate. Libraries help people search, filter and evaluate information for greatest relevance.
Communities enrich themselves by supporting libraries for the public good. Even if you are not a library user, you benefit from the value that the library contributes to your community by providing resources that enable individuals to expand their world and build opportunities.
Catie Roche is the director of the Robeson County Public Library. You can reach her at email@example.com. She is reading “Astray,” by Emma Donoghue.