April 27th, 2011

Librarians: Shushers or Superheroes?

Do you have those days where you simply cringe to think about what may be in the headlines? I sure do.  I’m an avid reader and respect the art of good writing and journalism, but goodness gracious, sometimes I need to escape in the pages of a book.

Truth so often is stranger than fiction—CCPL has a CD book about that, William McKeen’s Stranger Than Fiction: The Art of Literary Journalism, exploring the nature of storytelling and how journalism has affected our culture and modes of expression.  For a more lighthearted approach, I recommend joining Will Ferrell in the quirky and quite hilarious movie Stranger Than Fiction, so check it out. Here’s my true story: I believe in the soul of books. Be it a tattered and torn well-loved children’s book, a massive 800 page masterpiece, or the latest must-read on an electronic reader, stories have soul.

I like to let my mind wander and I suspect librarian Ranganathan (1892-1972) did as well. It’s okay if you can’t pronounce his name—what he did for libraries in his lifetime is what inspired me to write this very post. He believed in sharing his ideas with others, and promoted books in so many ways. Some librarians may refer to him as the “Father of Library Science.” I personally related to his simple philosophy of “Every book its reader.”   I’m not embarrassed to say librarians, in my opinion, are superheroes.

When you’re reading a book, you’re sharing your soul with what’s on the page. CCPL library staff is dedicated to connecting you with what stirs your soul. We also believe that any person who visits the library should be given excellent service. We strive to keep our atmosphere welcoming and helpful, no matter what’s going on in the world at large. We aren’t fair weather fans—we love our library users, and it’s our job to help you find the information you need. But Mr. Ranganathan makes the best case for the soul of the library and the soul of the book: “Library staff should be given full responsibility to promote the use of books…the book pleads with the librarian as follows: I am inert. Of my own accord, I am unable to lead into my reader’s hands. My voice is not audible…I depend on you for my being taken to my reader to be taken to me.”

Whew! Pretty cool, huh? You can find out more about Ranganathan or your hero of choice by visiting our Biography Resource Center.  If you’d like help finding the perfect read for you, use our Book Mate service, and let us help you escape. We’re not shushing you…tell us about your heroes and learn more about them at your library.


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April 22nd, 2010

Is the Internet Making Us Stupid?

There’s a question being raised that keeps me up at night—Is the internet making us stupid?  I’ve been using the internet for years now and I’m wondering if I’ve actually lost IQ points as a result.  And if so, how do I get them back?  To answer this question, I’ll try two approaches—asking the internet and asking a librarian.

So, I type key words of my question into the Google search box:  “internet stupid” and press go.

First of all, I get 52 million responses in .47 seconds.  That’s the most productive thing I have ever done.  How can that be stupid?  Of course I only have time to look at the first page of results and Google knows which ones are the best ones, right?  I’m not so sure.  Here’s what Google found:

Something Awful: The Internet Makes You Stupid: Daily internet news, reviews of horrible movies, etc.—No, not what I had in mind.
Is the Internet Making us Stupid?:
This seems to try to answer my question.
Image Results for Internet Stupid: The first image is titled “The Internet Makes You Look Stupid” and says that the internet doesn’t make you stupid, it just makes your stupidity more accessible to others. This seems true of the crew in the picture!
– Worst Problem on the Internet is Stupid Users
: Yes, but how did they get that way?
– Stupid Internet Tricks:
Not what I had in mind.
– Microsoft’s Internet Driving License: Stupid…but again, not helpful to my question.
Is Google Making Us Stupid?: Finally, another serious article on my topic.
– And many, many more results that don’t answer my question…

Only 2 of the results actually address my question—the rest is of no use to me.

Now I’ll try what thousands of smarter people do in Cecil County all the time—I‘ll call a librarian and pose the question. Here’s my personal response from Angela Prandini, Adult Services Librarian:

“Using our Health and Wellness Resource Center database, I searched using the terms ‘internet and brain’.  This yielded several articles on how surfing the web helps to keep Seniors’ brains sharp. The same search had an article by Jule Klotter about how technology, especially social networking on the internet, causes a decrease in direct contact with other humans. The article is brief but it touches on several points, good and bad, regarding the impact of the internet. Here’s also an interesting blog that points out the good and bad.”

So here’s the lesson—the internet gives tons of information, but you have to weed through a lot of garbage.  Librarians are internet and information experts who provide thoughtful and complete answers from good sources, including specialized databases.  They judge the quality and veracity of where information comes from and filter out the junk. Call, visit or email your librarians with your next question and see what great results they produce.

I’m still not sure if I’m any smarter thanks to the internet, but I do know that asking the help of a trained librarian is ALWAYS a smart thing to do.

What do you think?  Is the internet making us dumber?  How do you deal with the overabundance of web information?

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