Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Libraries Have Changed

Image by Owni

Now, more than ever, people need free access to accurate and current information. In order to provide it, libraries have changed the way that information is delivered. Through our website, we provide 24/7 reference, as well as information on classes, events, and programs. The Internet is a fabulous tool, but there are no laws, rules, regulations, or policies to ensure the accuracy, currency, or quality of what's posted. It's possible to find information you can trust, but it can be hit or miss. Your library staff is trained to help you find exactly what you need, when you need it. We've got links to trusted websites and to subscription databases that are free to library card holders. Most of these links are available from any Internet terminal, although a few (such as Ancestry Library Edition) can only be accessed within a library.

If you've ever Googled a broad topic and gotten millions of responses, you may appreciate knowing how to conduct a Deep Web search. If you'll pair a broad search term with the type of information you need and where it might be found, and link them with a + sign, you'll narrow your search to save time and effort. For instance, try doing a search for "Battle of Lexington." When I did this on Google, I got 1,090,000 results. When I did a search on "Battle of Lexington + primary sources + archives," I got 406,000 results. If I wanted to research this battle, I would be much more likely to find relevant and accurate information with the second search without wading through websites trying to sell me something!

When you need the best information available, ask a librarian or view our website. Both are available to help you find what you need. We have books and e-books; audiobooks on CD and as downloadables; and computer/Internet access with printing. Programs support education, entertainment, and economic goals. Wireless hotspots, both in the building and circulating, are available. As technology has changed, so have we!

The Birmingham Public Library's motto is "Preserving the Past, Exploring the Future." We are dedicated to using 21st century technologies to build, maintain, and deliver materials and services how and when our patrons need them. If you haven't been in a library for awhile, drop by your local branch. You may be surprised at what's available and how we provide it without "throwing the baby out with the bath water." We still have what folks have loved about libraries for decades, but we've changed to make sure it's available when and how our members most need it.

Come on, you know you want to. Check us out! (Pardon the pun.)

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

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