From the Director - July/August 2012
It wasn’t all that long ago that I didn’t know how to type. I didn’t take typing in high school. The prevailing logic at the time was that kids going to college, not to an office job, didn’t need it. Then, I paid to have my papers typed in college. Yes, I see the absurdity. In grad school, I either begged someone to do my typing for me or I had to hunt and peck my way around a keyboard. And that took days.
I didn’t even own my own computer. I married my husband for lots of reasons and, looking back, his Mac Performa 550 and mad typing skills may have been some of them. Now, when I think of how much I use computers and typing for work, daily life and recreation, I’m astonished at how much something I and others thought I wouldn’t need has become a necessary part of my life. We are committed to getting you the information and reading materials you need in multiple formats.
Such is the way with libraries. Many of us are in the profession because we love books. The stories, the look and feel of them, the heft of a novel in our hands and, yes, the smell of them. Thinking about how RCPL and the book has adapted just in recent years, I’m amazed.
We still check out over 2 million books per year, it’s just that this year about 100,000 are digital or “ebooks.” In fact, we check out more ebooks each month than some of our branches do books made of paper and bound with glue. We provide a wildly popular downloadable music service and our newest service improvement? Interactive downloadable copies of your favorite magazines.
We aren’t doing all this just because we are committed to innovation and being “green”. We’re providing these digital services because our customers expect us to. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, over 80% of all Americans are online and 87% use their phones to access the Internet. We can communicate, learn and recreate through something we hold in our hands.
Contemporary libraries are very different places than they once were. We still recommend great books, help people find answers to their important questions, provide spaces for learning, entertainment and reflection. But with technology and the Internet, our staff has a lot more tools to enhance the experience. And speaking of staff, have you noticed that RCPL staff is this wonderful hybrid of literature experts, information guides, teachers, gadget geeks and technology wizards? Where else can you get that kind of expert, patient assistance for free?
Who knows what technology we’ll be using 10, five or even three years from now? Maybe I won’t need my homegrown typing skills after all. Whether you are a longtime library cardholder or a new RCPL customer, know that we are committed to getting you the information and reading materials you need in multiple formats. Whatever they may be.
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