Time was, people predicted the digital age would render libraries obsolete; that they would go the way of the manual typewriter and 8-track tapes.
Truth be told, the Springfield-Greene County Libraries are providing more services, for more people, in more ways because of the digital age. It’s just that not all the increased traffic in our buildings walks out with books or DVDs. In fact, some of our increased traffic doesn’t even enter the buildings, but visits what I like to call our “11th branch,” the online library.
The e-reader phenomenon is a perfect example. People now download free software available on the library website, thelibrary.org, enabling them to download free e-books and audiobooks from our collection. In January, the library conducted a series of (non-Kindle) e-reader how-to sessions. They were so popular that we’re planning another series later in March, and adding a session for iPad users. Dates will be announced later.
The library is also the only source some people have for computers and the Internet. Each branch’s bank of computers is often filled with people using computers for communication and entertainment, but also to submit online job applications required by more employers today. The library also serves as a link to the digital world with free WiFi.
Recently we’ve also added a mobile website, accessed automatically from a mobile device by going to thelibrary.org. On the go? It provides branch hours and locations, with Google maps to each one; that day’s programs and a title search through the electronic catalog, coolcat.org.
Need deep research on an obscure topic? The Research link from the website has reliable, extensive databases. We bring far-away authors to library audiences in real time via Skype.
Conversation with customers is also enhanced in the digital age. You can always call us on the phone, but you can also comment or send a message through Ask A Librarian and facebook.com/thelibary.org, or place holds on items, renew them or pay your fines online.
The library still cherishes its traditional customers – those who love to curl up with a good paper book, leaf through a magazine and browse the stacks of biographies, mysteries and romance novels.
The library offers the best of both worlds, no matter which one you prefer.
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