Libraries: The best deal in town

Where can you get help with a research question, find an obscure experimental film that’s not available through Netflix or Redbox, hear an Irish music concert, learn the origins of your family name and watch your kids compete in a Lego-building contest?

You’ll notice that we didn’t even mention books. These days, your local library is about a lot more than just that.

The “Information Age,” with so many facts and figures just a keystroke away, has taken its toll on library circulation nationwide. But libraries are alive and well in the digital age.

Patrons are coming in for reading groups, children’s programs, museum passes, CDs, books (either with spines or downloadable) and more. Some come just to escape from their everyday lives with a little quiet time.

And yes, they’re using the computers, which libraries keep stocked with expensive databases to which most people don’t have access. (Believe it or not, not everything is available on the internet.)

In fact, several studies have pointed out that we need libraries more than ever in the digital age — not less.

According to one, by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (“InterConnections: A National Study of Users and Potential Users of Online Information”), libraries and museums are the most trusted source of online information. The study also pointed out that the explosion of information spawned by the internet actually whets our appetite for more information. (The use of one source of information leads to another, so libraries complement — rather than compete with — the internet.)

And, let’s not forget the human touch that libraries bring when we’re searching for something. Reference librarians live to help you find that nugget of information that you can’t find anywhere else.

National Library Week is April 13-19, so we hope you’ll spend some time to appreciate what we often take for granted — the free wealth of enrichment, enlightenment and entertainment that libraries provide us, free of charge.

For more about National Library Week, visit www.ala.org.

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