Is the internet making libraries obsolete?

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by Peter Fuller, Interim Director

Someone said to me last week, “we no longer need public libraries because we have the Internet”. Unfortunately, I hear that often. If it were true, I would expect that library use would be declining. The exact opposite is true. Use of the Seekonk Public Library is at an all-time high. This has been the trend nationally for the past several years. This comment did, however, lead to the following thoughts about the library and the Internet.

A major reason for this spike in library use is that more people are coming here to use the internet. Many people in Seekonk still do not have access to high speed internet service. Others can’t afford it. The library has become their internet service provider. It is well documented that library use increases in economic bad times. Providing internet service is just another aspect of our historic mission to provide information to all citizens.

The library recently launched a new program on the local public access channel, Cable TV-9. The show titled, Your Public Library, runs throughout the day and is also available at the TV-9 website, http://tv9seekonk.com/vod.php. One of the things that struck me after watching these shows was how frequently we refer people to the library’s website to “learn more about this” or to “sign-up for that”. It really is a gateway to a world of services, and we are adding new things all the time. I encourage you to take a few minutes and explore our website.

You may find it remarkable that so many of your library’s services are available online. You can obtain most of these services from your home or place of work. And it’s not just information about our services or access to databases. You can, for example, download e-books, recorded books and musical recordings. If you haven’t looked at this service recently, go to http://sails.lib.overdrive.com. You can do the same at Amazon of course, but it’s free at your library.

Librarians are trained professionals who can guide you through the internet labyrinth. Librarians add value to all of these services by making your Internet experience more productive and enjoyable. Take us up on it. Seekonk Public Library is ready to assist you- in person, on the telephone, and yes, over the internet.

Please email your questions and comments to me at pfuller@seekonkpl.org.

(This piece was previously posted in the Library’s February 2012 Newsletter.)

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