The unquiet librarian
Someone asked me the other day if you can’t get everything you need to know from Google. Actually the question—which was more of a statement, was more along the lines of—“Who goes to the library anymore; everyone finds what they want on Google, right?”
Actually no, the answer is no. No, they don’t. In fact, rarely does any search engine return exactly what you want—exactly what you are looking for—without exposing you to advertisements, mining your data, looking at the contents of past searches and emails to place data cookies and notes on your computer attached to your social media which will haunt you until the end of your days.
Trust me—I am still being followed by those boots I wanted so badly nearly two Christmases ago. Look for one style of boots and you’re branded for life—or until you clean your computer and all similar devices out with a scrub brush.
”But—But”, you say—“I always find what I am looking for!” You do? After how much time—and looking for what exactly? And in the words of Google do you “get lucky” or did you just settle?
Because, “Google is not a synonym for research,” –Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol. And “Google can bring you 10,000 answers, but librarians can bring you back the right one”—Neil Gaiman.
And that of course, this being a library column, and all, is exactly what I am getting at. Librarians are trained information professionals. Most of us have built in keyword dictionaries. Librarians know the best resources to go to for the most accurate information in both the wild search engine (Google, Dogpile) and the reviewed and vetted databases that the great state of Wisconsin makes available through Badgerlink as part of Your Library funding.
Badgerlink, by the by, isn’t just for school children or that college kid, either, although many of them learn about it and learn how to navigate it—many with the help of their school librarian—there. Hunting down your family history? Start on Badgerlink—and then meet with our local historians who can help. Car giving you trouble?—Do a little research before going to your mechanic. Badgerlink’s got amazing resources on engines—from auto to boat (not to mention snowmobile, atv, and tractor) Planning on getting your GED or taking another test, working on a resume, writing a business plan, or even learning how to work with the newest version of Photoshop—Badgerlink has resources to guide you through. Consumer Reports, newspapers, and all kinds of government resource links are right there on Badgerlink.
But you’re not good at computers? Don’t like them? Fine. You don’t need a computer. You have a public library. And the librarians are here to help you get the information you need. And if you want and need it in print—the library has that, too.
And what about those printed materials? Well, there are more of them being printed and read more widely than in any other time in history. As many of them as possible are made available either right here or delivered from somewhere else at Your Library.
Your Library, in addition to tech help, printed materials, genealogical research assistance, and general information, offers specific subject expertise, programs for all ages, meeting space, free computer access with either a library-provided computer or your own device, and diverse collections for children, teens, adults—more specifically in genealogy, local history, DVDs, music, audio books and entertainments, large print, and the Bump Art collection.
So, in answer to the question—who goes to the library anymore? Everyone could. Anyone who wants to is welcome. The library is the collection of the community, for use by the community. And Your Librarian will bring you the best answer possible, without having to sift through 10,000 links—or give up your secrets (or shopping habits) to get what you need.
So, if you haven’t been here in a while—it’s time to stop in. Your Library offers a great deal, and you might be surprised what it holds for you.