Now that we are well into the 21st century, have you considered what a 21st century public library is? We think about it all the time! We librarians (always a little geeky, I will admit) saw pretty early on that technology could help us operate libraries better and faster, and make accessing content easier for you. So, libraries have been in a change and innovation whirlwind for the last quarter of the last century as technology has boomed, and, so far, there is no sign of slowing down in the 21st century. Public libraries have always been about giving people—every person—access to information, knowledge, and even culture and recreation—so anyone can learn and grow throughout life. We are really a community education center for everyone. So we provide a space to learn, study, and meet, books to read and search, librarians to consult with as guides and educators, and programs and classes for children, parents, and adults. And now, providing Internet and Wi-Fi access, using web technology to provide amazing library services, often 24 hours a day—well its almost second nature to all of us, users and librarians alike.
We have retained the best of the traditional (and still vital) library services, and incorporated the most promising of the new technology based services. So, we still have thousands of books to check out (and we still love them!), but we have them in about 10 formats (hardbacks, large print, audio, paperback, of course), and now including electronic downloadable format that allows you to download the text of books and then upload them to a Sony Reader or Barnes & Noble Nook (and, at no charge, BTW). Another brand new innovation at your Cecil County Public Library—you can download audio books (books that are read to you) from our website right to your MP3 player or iPod. Then, you can listen in your car, on a plane, running, gardening, cleaning or where ever, also at no charge. Check out these services—click the Digital Library tab above, and look under eAudio Books and eBooks. And if you need some help getting started, just ask a librarian because we are here to help—it is who we are!
Sometimes, in the mind’s eye, we may still look and do exactly what we did 40 or 50 years ago. But I think the key thing to know about the 21st century public library is that it is indeed part of the 21st century, and still doing what it has always done best: creating opportunities to learn and grow and succeed for absolutely everyone in our community–just more powerfully (and more digitally) than ever!