The Lit Maven

Archive for the ‘Libraries’ Category

CardCatalogOver the past few years, I have seen comments by people wondering why libraries are needed. The exact question is: “If we have Google, why do we need libraries?”
Let me rephrase the question:
If I have cleaning materials, why should I hire a cleaner to tidy up my house? (time)
If I have roofing materials, why do I need a professional to replace my roof? (skill)
If I have a computer, why can’t I access the article I want from home? (money)
One of the saddest times of my life was disbanding the brick-and-mortar corporate library at a pharmaceutical company. The young, up and coming accountant stars questioned the need for a traditional library amid the wealth of information on the internet. They earned their Bachelors degrees poking around online sites and databases at their universities, so, they asked, “Why would anyone need a brick-and-mortar library?”
There are a number of reasons:

  1. Not everyone has access to the internet
  2. There is A LOT of junk out there
  3. To search properly and refine results, you must have skills, time and money
  4. Libraries are comfort places – a place where discrimination, racism, sexism and prejudice can be left at the door; everyone is equal, everyone is welcome; knowledge is for all
  5. Libraries are quiet places — in the midst of this exceedingly noisy world, libraries offer a place for meditation, reading and studying without noise pressures.
  6. Librarians are like bartenders without the alcohol. Listeners, caregivers, shoulders – you name it!
  7. Some people have a preference for books and like to be surrounded by them
  8. Most people do not have the money to license databases and journals for themselves – publications are expensive; databases and journals are offered for free to patrons (see #4 again)
  9. There are national give-and-take organizations (like Docline and AccessPA) that allow libraries to swap resources resulting in a 99% success rate in procuring articles and books

Does the internet help with searching? Absolutely. I use the internet in all of my searches. Sometimes, I am confronted with a search topic that I know absolutely nothing about – I don’t even know what it IS. The internet tells me. But, I have to wade through junk, advertisements, broken links, and wayward sites that have nothing to do with my topic. A professional searcher (a/k/a a librarian) will know how to navigate these roadblocks.
Having a real, live human being in a physical place is an extraordinary boost to any organization or company. How so? I have answered every question from “How do I convert a Word document into PDF format?” to “What methods can be used to combat bullying in the workplace?” to “How exactly is Narcan used in a heroin overdose situation”?
Where is all this coming from? In February, 2015, the terrorist group, ISIS, destroyed over 10000 books in a public library in Mosul. 8000 of these books were rare manuscripts, one-of-a-kind documents that cannot be replaced. I, and several of my librarian friends, mourned this irreparable loss. Much of Iraq’s history and culture were erased forever.
So, whatever your question, the answer is here in your library – come visit, anytime, whomever you are.

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