Thursday, July 19, 2012

Libraries of the Present

Libraries, of our present…

Libraries today stillprovide patrons with access to the treasures of their community, but thosetreasures now extend farther out into our world, and within a rapidly changinglandscape. Our libraries have become powerful technological resources with theinclusion of: onsite computers, impressive portals, highly organized databases, and extensive digital collections. While today’slibraries still serve the purpose of housing and preserving, some believe their evolutionwith technology has made them even more powerful cores within our presentsociety.       

While our libraries arestill filled with bookshelves and books, they also now provide communities withonline access, from within their four walls. Many modern patrons of the libraryvisit, not for the books per se, but for the access to a computer. Ironically,the physical library has now expanded the world to some by giving them accessto the vast World Wide Web, and its 80 billion pages of data (and growingdaily).

Our present-day librariesare not just physical repositories anymore, but most have already created astorefront within the Digital Marketplace, offering patrons a new virtual experience, aswell. As a result of early adaptation to the digitization movement, most librariesprovide open Internet access to their collections, from outside their fourwalls, from anywhere, and any computer device. In addition, over 75% ofpublic libraries now lend out ebooks, and 39.1% lend out ebook readers.

Whether inside the physicallibrary using a computer onsite, or offsite accessing the library’s informationretrieval system through a seamless portal, the amount of data (collections,volumes, archives, etc.) has exponentially increased, not only in quantity, butalso quality. Library databases are highly organized, and provide patrons withquick access to rich content that might otherwise take hours to find throughrandom searches on their own.

Sample partial librarydatabases (of digitized and rich metadata tagged content) include:
·     American Newspapers – electronic editions of hundreds of local,regional and national U.S. newspapers
·     Ancestry Library – 450 million digitally enhanced census recordsfrom the U.S. Federal Census
·     Automobile Repair Reference Center - all automobile makes and models from 1945 topresent, how to repair, maintenance schedules, recalls, etc.
·     Biography in Context - biographical details and images on 500,000+
·     History in Context - historical contextual online collection
·     Books &Authors - background, themes and origins of books and their authors.
·     Health & Wellness – medical publications, information on diseases,drugs, and healthy living.
·     Legal Forms Database - 1000’s of legal forms: federal, state, business,personal, real estate, etc.
·     Transparent Language Online - online learning system for 80 languages.

“Libraries are not made;they grow.” – Augustine Birrell

Blog Reference:
Public Libraries: Freeebooks available at your public library!

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