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May 1, 2009

Libraries Yesterday and Today- What a Difference!

Do you remember what your home town library was like? How many of you can conjure up a vivid image of your childhood hometown library? Can you smell it? Can you see the rows and shelves of books rising toward the ceiling of the building? Can you picture the sliding ladder leaning precariously against shelves of old leather-bound volumes and the librarian ( perhaps with her hair in a bun with a pencil behind her ear and sensible shoes?) climbing up the top to reach the book you wanted? Do you remember the huge wooden card catalogue and the large green books called Readers Guide to Periodical Literature?

Because our patrons need it and demand it and because technology is amazing, libraries have redefined themselves in a myriad of ways. They are no longer just a warehouse or repository for books - a passive, quiet, retreat for those with leisure time to read. Rather they are a whirlwind of activity and learning and moving parts and programs. While there are more, let me share just a few significant differences I've seen in the past seven years I have been here.

Libraries are focused on technology, both as a way to make limited tax dollars go further and to deliver the information, the experience, the learning in better, faster, and more interactive ways. We develop new technology so that we continue to be relevant and more importantly so that we can help our customers keep relevant. Check out some of our technology innovations including OCLS Mobile which lets you take the Library with you.

From job skills to languages, the Library is about learning. How much of what you learned in school is still relevant? I guess it depends on when you went to school. Speaking for myself, just about all of what I learned, especially in the sciences, is hopelessly outdated. We must keep up with the extraordinary pace of our changing world and information about it. We have to keep informed about the latest developments in our fields.

As funding continues to be an issue, libraries are looking for partnerships to extend their reach and to better leverage their tax dollars. OCLS worked with Rotary of Dr. Phillips to have a very successful After Hours event with Bill Belleville, noted environmentalist in April. We have also partnered with the Orlando Science Center on a grant written to help address the need for improving kids' science knowledge in elementary school. Brighthouse has partnered with the Library to host several successful author events with Helen Thomas, Seymour Hersh, and Carl Hiassen. If you have an idea for partnership get in touch with the Library at comments@ocls.info.

The Library will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs and interests of the community we serve. We appreciate your support and feedback as we forge these new directions.

Mary Anne Hodel
Library Director and CEO

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