Interesting conversation with a cab driver this afternoon. He asked if we were “with that Internet group.” We answered that yes, we were Internet Librarians. He had no idea what that could possibly mean, and wondered what an Internet Librarian did?
We talked about technology and patron expectations and having to keep up in order to serve the population. He admitted that he uses the public library often, because he can’t afford a computer and Internet access at home. I told him that he’s not alone, and that a lot of people use the public library for access.
Then the inevitable comment – “So do we need books anymore?” I answered very definitely in the affirmative. Hard to curl up with a computer. Aurora chimed in that the information on the ‘Net is good for about three paragraphs, but in-depth information requires books. He mentioned that he was frustrated by the local library, since they have about eight public access computers and at his last visit, three were out of service.
I reminded him that libraries have the same issues he has; computers are expensive and get very hard use in the library. They last two or three years, and then need to be replaced. Those three computers will probably cost three thousand dollars to replace (at least) and where does the library come up with that money? That one made him think a bit.
It was an interesting conversation because it was so common. Always good to have a chance to preach the message. Interesting that we still have to do so.