The media and bloggers sometimes report on the library being an outmoded service soon to be replaced by electronic books and alternative media. The common refrain is that you can find whatever you are looking for on the Internet. Or you might hear that libraries are full of dusty books.
I’m not sure where this attitude came from. We’ve always been cutting edge.
Did you know that in 2014, Solano County Library will be celebrating its 100-year anniversary? We were cutting edge in 1914 by getting out of the library building to deliver books to rural locations. Many years later, we had a migrant labor bookmobile service, which promoted literacy and access to education. That service is echoed today, as we partner with the Butte County Office of Education to provide space for their summer enrichment program for children of migrant workers in Yolo, Butte and Solano Counties.
You might be reading this article on an Apple iPad or a Mac. Back in 1983, Apple revolutionized the way we communicate and research by introducing the Apple IIe. It had a keyboard with a character set combined with a glorious 65 KB RAM that could be expanded to 1 MB RAM. In comparison, a standard flash drive has 4 GB – more than 4,000 times the computing power of the Apple IIe’s RAM.
Solano County Library had those Apple IIe computers at the Vacaville branch in 1983. They were coin-operated! As our motto says, the first public computers helped to “unlock the doors to your mind.” In 1983 Solano County Library also circulated Polaroid Sun 600 LMS (Light Management System) cameras, which were about the size of a computer monitor.
We are there for you.
Libraries serve as a meeting place for introducing new technology and ideas to people of all ages. Over the past 30 years, we have purchased about 300 public computers and offered workshops and one-on-one computer training. Two years ago, we began lending Nooks to help customers experience ebooks. In the past month, we rolled out two new initiatives.
At your local branch, you can borrow a Chromebook for use inside the library. It is a laptop that offers fast Internet service and Google Chrome features. We also subscribed to Zinio Newsstand. You can read full-text online magazines as they appear in print. Once you register from our website, Zinio will send the magazine to your email and even send you your favorite magazine each time it is published.
You can see that we aren’t afraid of the so-called competition. We can coexist because we help to promote new products and technologies and services for doing what we love – read and research. Anyone with a library card can access public computers, magazine databases, ebooks and audiobooks, along with our regular huge selection of books, DVDs and CDs, not to mention thousands of hours of public programs each year.
Serena Enger is the Supervising Librarian at the Fairfield Civic Center Library. She is currently reading “Pomegranate Roads: A Soviet Botanist’s Exile from Eden,” by Dr. Gregory Levin.