It’s an Internet World: The Library is More Vital than Ever
The world of information, the way it is generated and accessed, has changed and continues to change. So have libraries.
People need the Internet, but not everyone has it. Today, the Library has become the primary source of public broadband access in our society. That’s important when you consider two facts. First, nearly 54,000 households in Mahoning County do not have broadband Internet access. Second, to control costs, businesses and all levels of government continually move what they do to the Internet. Ads appear daily telling us to go online for one thing or the other. The continual push of people to the Internet is being done with little regard for the thousands of people that don’t have broadband access, or for the public library -- the institution that provides Internet access to those without it.
Internet access isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Where do the people in those 54,000 households go to prepare resumes and apply for jobs, sign up for the Medicare Rx drug program, do their taxes, check out product information, and do school assignments? Many come to a Library; many need help because they lack basic computer skills.
It’s an online world. Nearly half of top U.S. retailers only accept job applications online. You must go online to apply for unemployment benefits, to complete the FAFSA application for college aid or to get to the National Institutes of Health, one of the most reliable, nonbiased sources of medical information. Want to take advantage of a new government-supported program that provides a free cell phone and monthly airtime to low-income people? To apply, you have to go online.
Lost in a sea of information. There is so much to read, view and hear. The amount of information available to us has exploded. As a society, we are awash in information. Many people are lost. They need help to find the bit of information they heard about someplace. People often don’t know if what they need is in a book, a DVD or hidden away in a corner of the Internet you can’t locate with Google. Day in, day out, we see people struggling with all of this. The Library is the place where many of them turn for help.
It would be wise to recognize what the Library truly is: the place where people connect to the knowledge they need to function in society. World-famous scientist Carl Sagan put it well when he said.
“The health of our civilization… and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.”
Share your thoughts with us:
Do you have Internet access? Have you noticed the increasing number of times you have to go online for something important? Did you know the Library has high-speed Internet access available for free? Comment here or pick up a flyer in any public library in Mahoning County to give us your input.