As demand for technology resources increase, libraries continue to enhance their traditional services. Public libraries are relied upon for free technology training, job seeking help, and free access to digital media. Last week I joined thousands of librarians at the American Library Association conference and was amazed by all the truly inspirational and fundamental NEEDED work that is being done at our libraries. You'd think I'd already know this after more than 15 years in this field, but librarians never cease to impress me.
The man seated next to me on my flight to the conference asked, "What do libraries talk about at a library conference?" Well, I talked and learned from:
- library trainers that are fostering engagement through technology,
- library staff that are using technology in innovative ways through apps and streaming videos,
- library advocates who are reaching out through social media,
- digital literacy evangelists striving to connect with their communities, and
- librarians that have formed partnerships to extend their services and resources.
Evidence of impact was shared by librarians that are helping provide technology access to their communities during the current Colorado fires, and many stories were told of assisting job seekers and teaching the technology basics to every age and skill level. A tear-jerk-er story was shared from a school/public library partnership in Maine that promotes literacy by integrating technology into library programs. One 5th grade boy evolved from having never read a book cover-to-cover to reading (and enjoying!) 45 books in a single year. Truly transformational. As his teacher said,
He wasn’t a reluctant learner; he just hadn’t met the right book yet.
Libraries are a refuge for learning, holding up the traditions of the past while supporting future learning needs. The need for technology proficiency is found in every segment of our society, and is required to function successfully in work, education, government, politics, cultural, and social arenas. Technology has changed our expectations of what an educated person must know and be able to do in order to effectively participate in society. Libraries are transforming lives by providing patrons the tools needed to compete and thrive in the 21st century.