, Muskogee, OK


January 25, 2014

Libraries: part of the past, present, future

Scroll to book to Kindle. Papyrus to parchment to paper to digital tablet. Scribe to writer to typewriter to printer to keyboard.

The production and storage of knowledge will hopefully always continue to evolve.

The mission of the library stays the same, to get information to you, rich or poor, young or old, whatever color or persuasion you are.

Beginning in ancient Egypt (and maybe earlier), libraries have been evolving and changing with the materials available at the time.

The Library of Alexandria was not limited to gathering books for scholars to investigate.

The scholars at the library, inspired by what they read, explored space and mapped the known land to add new knowledge to the collection.

Libraries and the ways they gather and store information may change, but the mission of the library does not change: gather the best information, and new information and make it available to all those who search for it.

Neil Gaiman, renowned author of books for young and old said it well when he said:

“Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.”

If you haven't been in a library for a long time, come see what has changed and what has not. You will find expensive online research tools available to anyone. You will find downloadable e-books, audio books, music, and magazines. When we are open, you will find people willing to spend time helping you learn how to use the computer and people that will spend as much time helping the information YOU seek.

We have online resources that provide live help for homework, for making your resume sparkle, for helping you improve your interviewing skills, and many other useful tools for all walks of life. You can take classes from your home or our library computer in a wide range of subjects.

You may be well off, have your own computer, be well educated and think you don't need libraries. Countless numbers of such people have said “I haven't been in a library since I was a child, but ...”

Fill in the blank with “my printer died;” “I can't find this book I read as a child and want my child to read;” “I need to apply for this job online and my computer is down;” “I saw this quote on the Internet and I need to know who said it first;” or “I need to find my maternal grandmother.”

In ways that Google does not, we make reliable research possible.

Literacy today is not how many facts you know; they are easily available outside your brain now. Literacy could now be defined as knowing how to learn, how to un-learn and then re-learn.

Libraries are important to this new literacy. Come check us out and see how relevant libraries are today.  

Janie Teague-Urbach works for the Muskogee Public Library. Reach her at (918) 682-6657.

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