With the development of modern technology and nearly everyone using search engines such as Google to find information, it is surprising to walk down the street and find that the local library still remains open to the public for use. We tend to think of libraries solely as a center for books and encyclopedias from which we can spend hours doing research that may only take us minutes online. Although this position does have some level of merit, it is most certainly an outdated one. In many places, libraries have evolved and are even thriving.
Rutgers University’s Library and Information Sciences professor, Marc Aronson, said of librarians that provide information to students: When you bring attention to materials young people do not know about, but might love, or might be helpful to them, you break the hypnotism of the now. You are the curator of deep thought.
Libraries have and always will be information powerhouses; locations holding much of the written knowledge of the world between its walls. Large sections of libraries are devoted to histories, discoveries, and science whether these be across oceans or simply within the local area. An important aspect to library management is reanalyzing collected data kept in the libraries, which can provide inspiration for new scientific advancements.
Although not everything has been made digital yet, most libraries are working hard to digitize their records. One of the primary reasons for this is because digital data is available to users everywhere, not just those physically present inside the confines of the library. Sure, the number of people visiting libraries has dropped substantially. However, libraries such as the American History Archives at Wisconsin Historical Society while experiencing a 40% drop in visitors since 1987 have also seen over 85,000 unique yearly visitors to their digitized collection.
Digitization of files is not the only technical advancement that libraries have made recently. Many modern libraries have actually been adapted to house computer centers with massive online media search platforms that allow you to scroll the resources of the library or library system you are working within. Additionally, the majority of librarians these days are not simply trained in how to use the Dewey Decimal System to find books; rather, they are taught advanced information search strategies that can be a valuable resource for anyone attempting to use the internet to complete research or even do a general search for information.
Performing as a center for research and information has dominated what libraries are known for in most academic realms. But for many of us, libraries are still a location from which we can go and check out an interesting book without paying for it or feeling guilty for only reading it once then placing it on a shelf. Libraries are great for this. But even here, they have adapted to a technical age. Almost 70 percent of libraries checked out E-Books in 2011; nearly 18.5 million total!
Libraries, especially in primary schools have adapted to become education centers as much as reading establishments. Gone are the days where students that walk in to the library are immediately hushed and left to find information on their own. Modern librarians are eager to share information and to teach students how to efficiently find what they are looking for whether it is online or within the physical resources.
In many of the most adaptive schools, librarians are also known as media specialists that tend to avoid the traditional library schedule that restricts them to time with each classes for a specified period once a week. Alternatively, these schools encourage librarians to spend time with classes based upon the projects they are tackling. For instance, if one class is working on a US history project the librarian may spend part of every day for a week working with them before moving on to a different group working on a different project the next week.
Libraries are certainly not the same types of locations that they used to be before the rise of technology. They have, however, adopted new strategies of information research exceptionally well. This has ensured that libraries are not only surviving the technological age, but are playing a significant role in its development.
Library photo by Timetrax23. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.