In age of e-books, libraries are still relevant

To the editor:

We’ve heard the question, “Are libraries still relevant with the advent of the Internet and e-books?” Those who haven’t stopped by their library in a while are always surprised to learn about the wide array of services, programs and resources that are provided.

Some 244,335 annual visits to the libraries of the Jasper and Dubois County Contractual public libraries in 2012 allowed people of all ages to benefit by enjoying traditional books, e-books, computer classes, DVDs and CDs. Visitors research, read, share, learn, attend quality programs and use information for lifelong learning and leisure pursuits.

Library users treasure their library to gain access to resources and programs. A large number of visitors ask library staff to help them learn to use their e-reading devices, to operate computers, to better develop résumés, to apply for jobs online and to receive assistance in completing e-government forms.

While the recession drove more people to visit their libraries, we need to recognize that libraries were already very busy places, attracting record numbers of visits. The library is a place that is open and welcoming to all regardless of one’s socioeconomic position. It is the place where teens have discovered that the library is a cool place to go while at the same time scores of young parents engage in important childhood literacy programs.

Yes, the library is very relevant and also serves as a “living room” for democracy. Libraries further the convictions of our forefathers that a society flourishes when people have access to information. With resources that serve business owners and entrepreneurs as well as the home-schooled and people with special needs, libraries are uniquely positioned to serve as vital community centers where people connect with others, get help from information professionals and discover new worlds. Libraries are innovative, constantly evolving and often lead the way with new technologies and services. We’ll see you at the library!

—Rita Douthitt
Director, Jasper and Dubois County
Contractual Public Libraries

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