This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, November 14, 1990

November 14, 1990 - Dial-in services

Back when I was in library school, there was a lot of talk about the Paperless Society. Paper (invented by the Chinese, circa 105 A.D.) was proclaimed by several big-time library automation experts to be obsolete. The media of the near-future would be entirely electronic. People would read screens, not books.

It is true that computers have had a significant impact on our society.

But the book is very much alive. In fact, since the computer has come along, more books are being produced than ever. Small press publishers once found the costs of conventional publishing prohibitive. Now, they crank out their works by way of microcomputers and inexpensive printers.

Why? Because books are beautiful. Books can be read under your bed covers by flashlight. Books can be carried into the bathroom. (Try reading a computer screen in the bathtub. Well no, don't.) Books can be lovingly passed from one generation to another.

Books are here to stay.

Still, the computer can be a powerful servant of libraries. Right now, the Douglas Public Library District's automated system does most of our filing for us. There was a time when people had to type, sort, and sequence hundreds of cards daily. Now, librarians copy information from one computer to another, hit a couple of keys, and everything files itself.

At the same time, computers give patrons and librarians more information than a card catalog ever did. For example, a card catalog might tell you whether or not a library owns a book, but it won't tell you if there's a copy on the shelf. A computer catalog will.

Librarians can also use computers to put our entire catalogs on your desk. All you need is a personal computer, a modem, and the appropriate software.

Suppose you want to sit at your home computer and dangle a bright, electronic hook in our stream of books, videotapes, audiotapes, and magazine titles. You can do it, right now, right here in Douglas County. You can go to the library without ever leaving your home.

As I mentioned last week, the Douglas Public Library District has been working on creating computerized listings of civic organizations, social service agencies, and other county associations. These listings will also be available as a local "dial-up" service.

A public library must focus on its community. After all, one of the library's jobs is to make it easier to locate information resources. Some of those resources are books. Many of them, however, are your neighbors. The trick is finding them.

We think our new dial-in services can help.

If you'd be interested in trying them out, please call any of our branches and leave your name and address. I'm putting together a packet of information that will tell you how to take best advantage of the system. I should have the packets done by about Thanksgiving -- then I'll mail them to anybody who's interested.

Computers can be useful and fun. But let's not forget the ultimate aim here: literacy. Our goal is to have every Douglas County household comprehend the incomparable value of the written word.

The book still matters.

No comments:

Post a Comment