Things I’ve learnt as a library student
You need to be open to change. As with anything if you’re not willing to change with technology and your industry, you’re going to get left behind. Early on in my course it become apparent that the library industry is one that has changed with the times, however it was not something that everyone has embraced. Therefore the need to not only change but to be open to it is needed within libraries as, as our patrons shift, so must we and the services we offer.
Libraries are more than just books. The old stereotype of dusty libraries is a relic of the past, today you are more likely to see library space used for communal computers or study space. Modern libraries have embraced a range of technologies are offer a number of different services ranging from digital, social and educational.
There are many different ways to search for information. Whether this is simply through a database, catalogue or simply on Google, there are many different ways to search. There are advanced search options in a large number of search functions that allow you to narrow down your search, using Boolean Operators will increase the amount of useful information returned. It is important to remember that not all of life’s answers are going to be on the first page of the Google results.
When you think of libraries chances are you’ll think of books. This is by no means the wrong answer as for hundreds and thousands of years, libraries have been a ready source of books. However, as with everything, libraries have changed with the times and technologies. Such steady progression has seen many new features added to the repertoires of libraries, with new services being added and older one being updated.
To give an example, many libraries now offer a wide range of services such as:
- Online catalogues.
- eBook collections.
- Digital magazines.
- Digital music collections (often restricted to a number of downloads a fortnight).
- Online access to newspapers and their archives.
- Family history services and specific website access.
- 3D printing.
- Nation wide inter library loans.
- Cultural collections (digitised or physical).
- Free wifi.
- Free computer access.
- Prints of images from the collections (eg Fie arts prints).
- Some libraries also have on site cafes.
- Home delivery services.
- Multilingual collections.
- Author events.
- Children’s programs.
- Technology education classes.
- Book club groups.
These new and evolved services are purely examples, with each library and its offered services being different. Although why certainly, some libraries may have all of these services, others may only offer a few of them. In addition, the existence of special libraries which house more focused and subject based collections, has opened up an even larger opportunities for library users. Where before you would have to physically travel to a special library collection, or have the information scanned and sent to you, the digitalisation of special library collections has meant that you can now access the resources online.
Just as the creation of the Internet and the World Wide Web has revolutionised the way in which we live, so too has it greatly affected the services that libraries can offer. So next time you think about purchasing an eBook, or buying a magazine subscription, why not check out your local library and see what they have to offer.