Ever since the advent of the Internet, there has been the sentiment that books and librarians would no longer be needed.
After all, everything was free and available on the Internet, right? Wrong.
Contrary to popular belief, not everything is on the Internet and not everything is free. It would be impossible to digitize all of human knowledge. And even if we could, how would you make sense of it all?
Books and librarians will always be around.
The Internet provides access to a wealth of information, that is true. But the Internet is a disorganized, unregulated place. You can type some words in Google and get results, but can you tell the reliable information from the unreliable? Do you know the difference between an Internet address that ends in .com and .edu?
Anyone can put anything on the Internet.
There are people out there who will do just about anything to get your attention (Does "Rosy the Reviewer" ring a bell?).
But seriously, type .com by mistake, instead of .org or .edu at the end of an Internet address, and be afraid, be very afraid.
Some commercial enterprises buy addresses hoping you will make that mistake and end up on their web page, rather than the one you meant to go to.
This kind of thing may seem small to you just as I am sure you would never fall for the Nigerian email scam. You know the one, it begins "Dear Admirable Beneficent One..." or some such thing and then it goes on to tell you he is a Nigerian Prince and needs a bit of cash to make his and your dreams come true. Oh, no, YOU would never fall for that, but enough people have that the scam continues. Likewise with these bogus websites. They only need a few of you to land on their websites to be successful.
Porno, anyone? If you type www.whitehouse.com instead of www.whitehouse.gov, see what you get.
Librarians are trained to help you avoid those kinds of mistakes, lead you to the reliable sites and help you make sense of what you find, whether you use the Internet all the time or are a beginner.
Yes, Google is amazing, and I give it its due. But a librarian is a trained professional on duty in a library to help anyone and everyone with his or her information needs no matter what their skill level. A librarian will welcome you with a smile, patiently work with you to formulate your question, if needed, and help you evaluate your search results, so you are getting the best information possible. And they do their best to make sure you are satisfied before you leave the library.
Can Google do that?
In these trying times, libraries have been busier than ever. Librarians help the newly unemployed fill out job applications and set up free email accounts. I know it is difficult for many people to believe, but there really are people out there who are not only not computer savvy, but don't own computers. They come to the library for help.
Think of a construction worker who did that job for 30 years and suddenly found himself unemployed. He didn't need computer skills to build a house. Now if he wants a job at Home Depot, he has to fill out his job application online. Librarians help him do that.
Librarians also teach classes to help senior citizens practice needed mouse skills so they can email their grandchildren. They get them set up on Facebook so they can stay in touch with friends and family.
Can Google do that?
Librarians also protect your right to information by providing all sides of an issue and your privacy to seek whatever information you wish.
Can Google do that?
Don't get me wrong. The Internet, and Google in particular, have certainly made our lives easier, especially the librarian's. In my days as a reference librarian and researcher, I can remember endless hours of searching in old newspapers and volumes of reference books for a fact I can now pull up on the Internet in seconds. And I am sure you find it easy to find information too.
But are you sure you are finding the right information? The best information?
There really is a skill involved in doing Internet searches. I won't get into Boolean logic, because Google has pretty much solved that issue, but formulating a specific, accurate, "down to the nitty gritty" search? Do you have that skill?
And you know what? If Google went away tomorrow, Librarians would still be able to find information for you...the old fashioned way!
And that leads me to another reason you need librarians.
I can't tell you how often a library customer came to me looking for help telling me he or she had already looked on the Internet and found some things but it didn't really answer the question. I would quickly do a search and find the information and the customer would say, "How did you do that?" I would just smile.
I wanted to say , "This is what I do. I am a Librarian."
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