"To Infinity ... and Beyond!" What's not to love about Buzz Lightyear's catch phrase? It is full of promise of adventure, discovery and excitement. This week's celebration of National Library Week, draws upon that same enthusiasm with the theme Unlimited Possibilities. It has been said before, the library of today is not your grandmother's library. On second thought, maybe that should be adjusted just a bit. The library of today is your grandmother's library but with a few more tools that add a lot more umph to experience of adventure, discovery and excitement. Add to that, today's librarian is trained to help patrons explore the unlimited possibilities.
Is it silly to say that there is adventure, discovery and excitement in the library? A bit corny? Not at all! As a matter of fact, the internet has done more to help libraries and librarians in the past twenty years then most people realize. Before the internet, patrons came to the library feeling a bit overwhelmed in their search. The rows of indexes, card catalogs and more indexes seemed a bit daunting. The best course of action: get the librarian. Then the Internet came along to change the library landscape drastically. Contrary to popular belief, the library didn't fold and disappear. It thrived. One of the good things that the Internet has done for searching information is that it gives the searcher the encouragement to seek information on their own. In the minds of library patrons', there's nothing difficult about research. As long as there is a keyboard, screen and wifi, everything works out fine. Well, most of the times. There are still times when the independent searcher is in need of a little assistance. For the record, librarians love the independent learner, but even Christopher Columbus, one of the best explorers, never left home without a map or a guide. There comes a time when human interaction is needed in the search. That is where the unlimited possibilities lies.
Libraries have adapted to the changes in information gathering not only because it was important for survival of libraries but it is important for the survival of the community in which they serve. Without libraries the possibilities of growth, are seriously compromised. Where do children go to do homework? Where do the unemployed go to find resources to help them find new jobs? Where does anyone go for leisure reading ? The library offers this and so much more that to list all the possibilities it would take more time and space then this blog can provide. A library is only a building. A librarian is the "keeper" of the information.
In the age of countless technology changes and adaptations it is no wonder that patrons expect unlimited possibilities. Everything seems to be at our fingertips. Twenty years ago in the library, it would have been inconceivable that a cell phone would become an information tool. Twenty years from now, it's anyone's guess as to how technology will change the way information is retrieved. However, it is safe to say that when the technology kicks it up a notch, librarians will be there to help the community use the technology to it's fullest potential. Quite honestly, what has been accomplished through the internet in the past twenty years is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more and librarians are prepared now more than ever to help patrons realize the unlimited possibilities at the library. In the spirit of Buzz Lightyear... "The the Library .... and beyond!" (Okay, that was corny but it's the excitement of National Library Week that sparked it!")