Seriously, think about the last time you looked for a book. Was it at home? At the library? At a book store? If you were looking at home you probably knew where to look and were able to find what you needed fairly easily. But now imagine looking for a book in a library or bookstore where there is no discernible organization or list of what is available. Maybe some division by subject but that's it. Now imagine trying to do research for a class. That's the library right now.
BUT! Having the computers and an Integrated Library System (ILS) is going to help. We are going catalog, catalog, catalog! To all you non-librarians reading, this means we will enter information (title, author, subject, etc.) about the books into our ILS. Once the information is entered students and staff will be able to search for the materials. Each book will also be assigned a call number (think dewey decimal) and then we can just go to the shelf, find the number, and get the book. Voila!
Yes, this is going to take time. And patience. And a lots of orientation and training sessions when we are finished. I have struggled with making sure we are not installing computers just to install computers. I think sometimes it can seem like having computers will make everything better and suddenly everyone will flock to the library. But I am reminded again and again that it is not the computers that will make people use the library (although, I do think it will help) but also educating users on the resources we have and what they can find. Creating an attitude of curiosity and critical thinking. Training students and staff how to use the computers as a research tool and not just a place to set up email. Reminding students the library is more than a room of books and tables.
Will this new attitude happen tomorrow? No. Next week? No. By the time I leave? Maybe. One step at a time. Each book cataloged, each dewey decimal number, each time a student checks out a book, each positive interaction, brings us a little closer.
|Two library staff computers: Before|
|Can we conquer this?|
|Joshua patiently rearranges wires and computers|
|Two library staff computers: After|
|Joshua and Me...at the desk, ready to answer questions|