Ten Reasons Libraries Are Still Better Than the Internet

Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one. --Neil Gaiman

 December 19, 2017, first appearing on American Libraries Magazine

Sixteen years ago, American Libraries published Mark Y. Herring’s essay “Ten Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library” (April 2001). Technology has improved exponentially since then—social media didn’t even exist yet. But even the smartest phone’s intelligence is limited by paywalls, Twitter trolls, fake news, and other hazards of online life. Here are 10 reasons why libraries are still better than the internet.

  1. Libraries are safer spaces. The internet brings people together, often in enjoyable and productive ways, such as over shared interests (pop culture blogs, fanfic sites) or common challenges (online support groups). But cyberbullying and trolling can leave people reluctant to engage with folks they disagree with or to share their ideas in the first place. Libraries are places where people can gather constructively and all are welcome.
  2. Libraries respect history. Web pages are ephemeral, and link rot is a real problem. The content of library collections is much more stable. Printed materials are generally published on acid-free paper, which will not disintegrate. And librarians are leading the way to bring similar stability to the web through services like the Internet Archive and perma.cc.
  3. Librarians digitize influential primary sources. While looking at historical artifacts is valuable, repeated physical handling can damage them. Making digital versions of important works available online—as in the National Library of Medicine’s Turning the Pages project—is one solution. Library digitization projects also provide information to people who do not have the resources to travel to a particular library. Librarians are using the emerging technology of the internet to further the timeless mission of providing better access to information. The internet is the platform that enables this progress, but librarians are doing the work.
  4. Librarians are leaders in increasing online access to scholarly information. The open accessmovement makes scholarly articles available to all readers online, and librarians have been strong advocates of the movement for more than a decade. This access is especially critical when reporting the results of medical research, which is often funded by taxpayer dollars.
  5. Librarians are publishers. Scholarly publishers still provide the journals and books that researchers develop. But librarians have joined these efforts by becoming publishers themselves. New librarian-led publishing initiatives take full advantage of the web and generally make new work available on an open access basis. One example of library publishing, which is common in academic libraries, is the institutional repository. These repositories collect and preserve the broad range of a college or university’s intellectual output, such as datasets gathered in research studies, computer code used in software development, and conference proceedings.
  6. Libraries host makerspaces. Given that makerspaces provide venues for creativity, learning, and community, it only makes sense that libraries champion them. The maker movement has grown rapidly—in 2016 there were 14 times as many makerspaces as in 2006. Both public and academic libraries host makerspaces. You can learn about makerspaces online, of course. But to visit one you have to venture into the physical world.
  7. Librarians can help you sort the real news from the fake. While a plethora of useful, accurate, and engaging content is available online, the web is filled with inaccurate and misleading information. “Click bait” headlines get you to click on the content even if the underlying information is superficial or inaccurate. Misinformation is the spread of deliberate falsehoods or inflammatory content online, such as the Russian-backed ads placed on social media during the 2016 US presidential election. Librarianship has always been about providing objective, accurate, and engaging information that meets the needs of a particular person. This has not changed, and it is why librarians are experts in information literacy.
  8. Librarians guide you to exactly what you need. Google is an impressive search engine, but its results can be overwhelming, and many people do not know to filter them by content type (such as .pdf) or website source (such as .gov). Google offers many search tips, which are useful but generic. A conversation with a librarian can clarify exactly what you are looking for and figure out the best way to use Google—or many other resources—to find it.
  9. Librarians do not track your reading or search history to sell you things. Amazon’s book purchase recommendation feature is useful for learning about new books. But this usefulness comes at the expense of your privacy because your reading data is valuable business intelligence for Amazon. The same is true for your web searching history, which is why you often see ads for a product for weeks after searching for it just once. Librarians value and protect your privacy.
  10. Librarians do not censor. One core value of librarianship, as exemplified by the work of ALA’s Freedom to Read Foundation, is thwarting censorship and allowing the free and full exchange of ideas. The internet is a powerful tool for information sharing, but it takes human advocates to stand for information freedom.

Libraries continue to provide benefits that are both tangible—such as community spaces and human interaction—and harder to quantify—access, privacy, intellectual freedom. The internet is an indispensable and irreplaceable tool for modern living. But it is not a library and will not replace the work of librarians.

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Happy New Year from the Moline Public Library!

Image result for happy new year

Fingers crossed that 2018 will be a good one!

Let’s all resolve to read more, watch more and learn more this year. Stopping by the library would be a good place to start… starting tomorrow, when we are actually open.

8 In 10 Adults Still See Libraries as Sources of Credible Info

Card Cat

Photo by Sanwal Deen on Unsplash

With the terms of what constitutes “news” or even “facts” ever more in question, most Americans are comfortable depending on public libraries to help guide them toward reliable sources. A new study cited by the Pew Research Center reports that at least seventy-eight percent of adults believe their local library can steer them toward information that is “trustworthy and reliable.” In fact, the public’s growing fear of being bamboozled by “fake news” may actually be working in our libraries’ favor, as “about six-in-ten adults (sixty-one percent) say they would be helped at least somewhat in making decisions if they got training on how to find trustworthy information online.” Chances are, your local librarian will be able to help you with that very objective.

Click here for the complete post…

Learn Your Library Resources: Services Edition – Notary Public and Passport Service at the Library

Special thanks to the Children’s Department Blog and Marta for writing this brief intro to two of our library’s most helpful services. 

NOTARY PUBLIC AND PASSPORT SERVICES AT YOUR LIBRARY!

Many libraries offer services that might surprise a few people. Two unusual things we offer are Notary Public and Passport services.

Notary

A notary public can witness a signature on a document with a proper photo ID. Remember not to sign the document, the notary must see you sign the document. There is a small fee for this service.

Passport EmblemYes, you can apply for a passport at our library! We have several passport acceptance agents who are trained by the Department of State to accept your application. Applications are available on line or you may pick one up at the library. You can also get your passport photo taken at the library, just let us know when you sign up for an appointment.

Unlike many places these services are available in the evening or on Saturdays.

Even Libraries Need Friends!

National friends of libraries week

Friends groups and foundations help libraries across the country enhance their services and programming by helping the libraries face budgetary challenges and the technological demands of today.

The Moline Public Library Friends Foundation is a volunteer group founded in 1990 and dedicated to supporting the Moline Public Library in order to enhance the services provided to library patrons. Its efforts, through the Friends run book store and fund raising, have provided the library with hundreds of thousands of dollars that were used to provide great and exciting services and programs.

So, if you love your library, thank a Friend today. Or better yet, become one!

What Would You Lose?

by , August 30, 2017, first appearing in Library Journal

Library Advocacy PosterU.S. libraries battle unprecedented challenges to federal support; you can help—and if you don’t have a copy yet, you can download and print the PDF of our poster, sponsored by Gale Cengage, highlighting services that libraries stand to lose without federal funding. These services were drawn from states’ 2013–17 plans for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds granted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Read it, post it in your library or around your community, and start a conversation.