Actually, I did know that. And I know you can still also get a master's degree in library science, because B has her MLS. She went back to school at age 52, got the degree, and now goes to work every day at the library in our community. The fact is, if you want to get hired as a librarian, at least around where I live, you must have an MLS.
Her son, a 20-something hipster who works for an Internet marketing company in Brooklyn, NY, thinks along the same lines as Brad (much to his mother's consternation). He thinks libraries are outmoded technology. What do you need a library for when you've got a smartphone in your hand, giving you direct access to most of the world's knowledge?
|Maybe he has a point ... but not about librarians!|
So with a little help from B, I thought I'd outline what libraries do for us, and why they're still an important part of our communities -- despite the fact that a great deal of the world's knowledge is right there in front of us on the Internet. I know I'll never convince B's son; but maybe I can change Brad's mind.
For one thing, you can borrow books from the library. For free. That's a bargain even if you can download the latest $25 bestseller from amazon for only $7. It's true, you might have to put the book "on hold" and wait a few weeks. But at many libraries you can also download the book onto your e-reader. Again, for free.
You can also borrow music and movies from the library. Yes, I know they are delivered on those old-fashioned DVDs. But the library has a lot of good movies, classic movies, offbeat indie movies that Netflix doesn't offer.
B is a children's librarian. She hosts three different book clubs for kids of different ages. The library also offers a number of other programs. Teenagers read books aloud to young children. Younger children read aloud to dogs -- the idea is that it helps kids develop their reading skills in a completely nonjudgmental atmosphere. The library hosts a sleepover for middle school kids once or twice a year.
But of course it's not just kids. People still come to the library to browse the bookshelves, looking for something good to read. They ask librarians for recommendations. People spend time in the periodical room perusing newspapers and magazines. And they still do occasionally come in looking for reference material.
There are jigsaw puzzles out on the tables. There are displays featuring various subjects -- Irish history for St. Patrick's day, memoirs about mothers for Mother's Day; thrillers for Halloween. The library features paintings and drawings of local artists in the hallways. And of course there's a bank of computers for the public to use -- if people don't have a computer at home, or their computer is broken, or they need some help, or they just want to get out of the house.
The library also offers adult programs, bringing in guest speakers to give lessons in basic computer skills. Other experts offer financial advice, literary insights, historical perspectives. There's a dancing class for seniors once a week. There's an adult book club sponsored by the library -- and the library coordinates with several private book clubs in town to help make books available to people.
In fact, about the only people you usually don't see in the library are the 20-somethings. They're too busy getting their lives started. But kids and families and seniors all come into the library. They spend time there, meet other people, strengthen community ties and enrich their own lives.