Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

September 21, 2010

Technology moves forward and so do your area libraries

By Amie Thomas

— Do you remember the Jetsons? This futuristic cartoon set in the 21st Century from the great minds at Hanna-Barbera originally aired in 1962. “Meet, George Jetson ... Jane, his wife...” I loved the catchy theme song!

Remember all those really crazy inventions in the cartoon? Robots, video phones, web conferencing, and even moving sidewalks were all featured in the Jetsons cartoons back in the ‘60s. Back then, it seemed like these were pretty far-fetched. Fast forward 47 years and these things seem pretty routine.

Every September we celebrate libraries and their role in the community. And for those of you reading this even now thinking the technology mentioned above has killed libraries — think again. Libraries and their staffs have become more critical than ever to help folks navigate the digital age.

It’s exciting times we live in with technology changing the way we do just about everything. From newspapers to websites, private journals to public blogs, from the telephone to e-mail, to instantaneous contact from Twitter and Facebook it has become a world for many to either adapt to or sink in.

And it’s not just socially we’re experiencing this change. Many basic government services now require computer access. Unemployment, insurance, and tax forms are operating fully in the online environment or are strongly encouraging their users to begin that process.

As you experience the mass change in the way you get information, we are too. Libraries around the country have begun to transform. We’ve worked hard to train our staff on the latest technology because we need to be ahead of the curve to answer your questions. We understand that as more and more services go online, you might need some help bridging the divide. We’re also addressing the social needs by adapting our collections to include downloadable audio, eBooks, and music. You might also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

While many librarians are die-hard bibliophiles (we still love the sensory experience of a book in your hands), we realize that we’re approaching a generation born with an iPod in their cribs.

So, what does the future of libraries hold? No one knows for sure, but the transition from print to digital is just part of the change we see. It’s not just about books anymore. People come in for all reasons — meetings, programs, computers, studying, and more.

Libraries are living and breathing. The Internet has not killed the library, but instead has changed us, just like it’s changed you.

— Amie Thomas is public services administrator for the Brownsburg Public Library.