As a public librarian, your very livelihood is based on patron curiosity. While inquiries about the desserts from ancient Mesopotamia and the definition of salubrious lead to objective answers, not all patron curiosities are so straightforward. One common question librarians get, much to their consternation: Why should patrons use the library when the Internet is faster? Here’s how to convince library guests to step away from the computer screen and shed some light on services that are offered solely at your library.
Although the Internet can provide snappy responses to quick inquires, patrons should never discount the knowledge offered by their local resource librarian. Many online sources will bring patrons to conflicting answers, broken links and altogether unreliable information. However, with just one visit to their local library, patrons gain access to thousands of publications (that have gone through a thorough editing process!) and the opportunity to sift through local records and archives they would otherwise pay a premium for online. And unlike on the Internet, library patrons have librarians acting as friendly guides to help them on their quest for knowledge. No longer do truth-seekers need to worry about combing through bad information as they research 19th-century poètes maudits with you around to help guide them to the best resources.
The Library as a Space
Between the cozy offerings of reading rooms and interactive makerspaces, the library isn’t just a place to get books: every time they enter, the library offers an experience patrons can make uniquely their own. It’s a place to relax, collaborate and learn—whether it’s to snuggle down in a comfortable chair to read the latest Dennis Lehane novel or discuss the yarn stores in the city at the Wednesday night knitting club.
Acting as the middle ground for young and old minds to come together, the library is a haven for families who have differing interests but want to do something together. Children’s activities and games are common to the library, giving parents the opportunity to spend time with family and the time to kick back, relax and even catch up on some reading. Makerspaces encourage patrons to turn off their computers and learn technology differently. While the Internet certainly offers valuable virtual spaces for people to hang out, none of them are as cozy (or as cool) as the library.
Language Learning Services
Learning a language can be challenging, especially for those who don’t know quite where to start. By offering a sufficient language learning solution at your library, patrons will not only have free access to the countries and cultures of their dreams, but they will also have a built-in support system unavailable to those who attempt to learn solely from the Internet. Language learning services that can be offered at your library are unique in that they have the capability for at-home learning, as well as connecting like minded patrons to practice their language skills and form study groups. With Mango’s language learning software, librarians can even be clued into which languages are the most popular and offer additional resources accordingly, providing patrons with a more integrated approach.
While the Internet is a useful tool, there’s nothing quite like stepping into a local library and uncovering that next great read or the inspiration to try something new. Read our whitepaper, “Why We (Will Always) Need Public Libraries” to read more about why the library is here to stay.