Friends of the Truckee Library: Libraries reinventing themselves to remain relevant
October 23, 2010
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; During my peregrinations through New England this past summer, I covered a lot of territory between Northern Massachusetts and Northern Maine, passing through deeply wooded areas, acres of farmland, tiny rural towns and along rugged rocky coastlines. One constant in the varied terrain was the libraries. Even the smallest towns were committed to having public libraries. After hours, their wireless signals extended out to the front stoop or to a picnic table out back where I was able to connect to the Internet.
Libraries across the country are reinventing themselves to stay useful and relevant in our technological world. In and#8220;Print is not Dead and#8212; Libraries Boomingand#8221; a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco native son Carl Nolte describes a visit to the library on Mission Street, where he and his brother had spent summer afternoons in their youth checking out adventure books. Anticipating a sleepy, hushed and empty book repository at his old haunt, Nolte was surprised to find the place packed and vibrant.
There were shelves of books and CDs on reserve waiting to be picked up, the stacks were filled with people of all ages, computers were everywhere, and there was hardly an empty seat in the upstairs reading room. The main San Francisco branch checked out 2.9 million items last year: and#8220;A number equal to three times the population of the San Francisco,and#8221; notes Nolte.
A visit to our cramped Truckee library reveals a similar situation. Parents and youths sprawl on the colorful carpet in the childrenand#8217;s room to explore a book, people settle in to read the newspaper and there is often a waiting list to use the libraryand#8217;s computers.
In addition to being a dependable resource for Internet connection, Libraries these days are finding a new role as purveyors of information, resources, and tools for job hunting. The nonprofit library cooperative OCLCand#8217;s recent research shows how communities are using their public libraries: Every day 300,000 Americans get help with job searches at the library; two-thirds of Americans have library cards; and every year Americans make 1.4 billion visits to the library and#8212; more often than we go to the movies and six times more than we attend live sporting events.
Perhaps the greatest strength of our public libraries and their professional staff is their ability to respond to shifting trends, needs and technology, and to remain vibrant centers that continue to attract and serve all segments of the population.
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and#8212; Pam McAdoo is a Truckee resident, an artist and active in library issues in the community.