For over a hundred years, libraries have played a vital role in the lives of people seeking information. They offered books and knowledge, alongside librarians who know how to find that information. From school reports to vital life needs, to creating townships, governments, running for office, fixing cars, opening a business, and on – libraries have mattered.
With the creation of the Internet, alongside computer prices becoming more affordable and free Internet stolen from your neighbor, libraries seemed to matter less. Then one of the most powerful search engines known to mankind came out, and just like that Google provided information faster than any librarian could at the click of a mouse. And if that wasn’t fast enough, they created Google Instant, making libraries seem increasingly obsolete. Now many view libraries as just hubs to get free Internet when your neighbor finally realizes you’ve been stealing from them all along or places to print when you’re out of ink.
The future of libraries as said to be nonexistent.
But the reality is, they have and will always matter.
Librarians are smart. They realized that as Google attacked their very well being, they needed an army and hired people like me, younger, savvy with computers and even Google, but also a lover of books, knowledge and education. They then implored us library aides and assistants to recreate the library to be something completely different, viewing them as community centers, offering fun programs for children, teens and adults. And while I was implored by true librarians who studied for years the importance of libraries, one thing remained, books, education and knowledge. When creating a program for teens, we were encouraged, if not downright expected to tie in books, education and knowledge. So our programs for children became storytimes, where we flat-out acted out a book, with a theme each week. Our teen programs were things like poetry slams, Summer Reading Programs offering prizes to teens to keep reading over the summer to retain some of the approximate 20-percent of information forgotten by a teen who isn’t reading. And adults were provided classes that walked through the how-to books, engaging adults by offering computer classes, or flat-out inviting (and sometimes bribing) authors to come and discuss their book.
The theme was always the same though, that of books, education and knowledge.
Recently I was hired to write for a Social Media company where I am assigned various articles, blogs, and how-to guides that are posted under a different name on the Internet. I write for dozens of different companies on a variety of topics. The job itself is by far the easiest I have ever done, and frankly it is painful at times. It’s painful because what I am assigned and supposed to be ghost writing about is very rarely anything I truly am expert on. Certainly, I write as an expert, but as a man with over six years of library experience under my belt, I value the importance of information. Each time I am assigned an article, I am provided with one that is already written about the subject, and am generally expected to mimic it, being sure not to plagiarize, but to say the same thing using different words.
Now I know how to find information, including using Google, as well as online databases and scholarly articles. For this job, I am on the library’s website more often than I need to be, and while I realize the expectations set before me are low, I cannot with a good conscious put information out there I know to be incorrect or not the whole picture.
Writing for this Social Media company has demonstrated to me that while librarians have been smart to move towards creating community centers out of their space, they were even smarter in being certain to continue to keep books, education and knowledge a part of it.
Yes, finding information on the Internet is not hard. Almost anyone can do it. Even those struggling to use a mouse have done it, and done it well. And many times the information you find by typing in the three or four words Google needs to instantly bring you the top results is valuable, it isn’t always. That’s where libraries come in.
Librarians, and us library assistants and aides, know how to evaluate a source. We know the first page of any search on Google, or any search engine, is crap. The first page offers nothing but information that was put their by companies that want you to find it. Google accepts bribes, just like Yahoo, Bing, etc. Those articles you read comparing the three drugs out their for erectile dysfunction, or how to keep your car from overheating are likely written by people like me. But those writers, those writers don’t have a background in seeking information. They simply are filling a word count to get paid.
We, as in those who value books, education and knowledge and who have worked in a library know how to find you valuable, real, useful information. And the right kind of information is all that really matters in the end. So long as information is needed, as it will always be, libraries will be important, libraries still matter and simply always will.