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Libraries Continue to Evolve: Advent of Technology has Seen an Expansion of Services
What were libraries? The English thinker Bacon considered libraries as the shrine where all the relics of the ancient saints, full of true virtue, were preserved and reposed.
The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described the library as a bridge connecting human beings and the world: "He has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library."
Both Bacon and Longfellow emphasized the importance of libraries and books to a human being, in particular, to a human being's intellectual life. However, nowadays the library not only is a place housing collections of paper books but also provides services and resources accessible to patrons beyond the physical library building.
Library services have become largely extended thanks, no doubt, to the rapid development of computer technologies and their implementation in libraries. Electronic resources and virtual library services make libraries more open and accessible to patrons although collections of physical items and in-person services remain important.
The conception of "library" and "library services" thus has been significantly enriched and extended.
How can this be illustrated? For example, in our Grande Prairie Public Library, if a patron wants to look up the term "illuminati," he would have three ways to find the meaning. He could use a traditional way by consulting a printed dictionary in our library. He could search the electronic dictionary located on the catalogue page of the library website. He could also log on our online Oxford English Dictionary if he hopes to find more detailed explanations of the term.
For the two last solutions, he can do it in his office, at his home or from anywhere he can gain access to the Internet. The extended library service is thus reflected in the fact that a patron obtains information and library services without leaving the comfort of home.
More examples can be provided at the Grande Prairie Public Library. Over the years, the library has subscribed to 60 databases which cover 25 subject areas such as arts, business, education, encyclopedias and dictionaries, language, history and genealogy, music, environment, and home and auto.
The typical databases are ConsumerReports, Hobbies and Crafts, Auto Repair Reference Center, and Canadian Newsstand, and so on.
What if your car broke down in the late evening and you need information about car repair immediately? You know there are car repair manuals in the library and you even know where these manuals are located in the library. But the library has closed at this time!
Don't worry. Just visit the library website and search the database Auto Repair Reference Center to get the right information. Putting it another way, the databases provide access to a variety of information and assist patrons with reading, research, foreign language learning, and even daily life. Most importantly they extend our library services to 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
For our patrons, these databases can easily be accessed online by going to the Grande Prairie Public Library website and clicking on the Online Research Tools in the Books & More section.
Like other public libraries in Canada, our Grande Prairie Public Library is reaching out to patrons outside of the physical building through the effective delivery of electronic information. Patrons can search our databases to obtain relevant and current information. Patrons can use resources such as OverDrive and NetLibrary to download audiobooks and eBooks.
Moreover, access to these resources is available through the library website at home, work and school, and is free to patrons with a valid library card. The library moves in the times and the library services are being extended continuously.
With the extended library service, libraries are not only important to our intellectual life but also to our daily life.
Posted by webmaster on December 15, 2009
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