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Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog

I am a reference librarian with experience in both the public and state government fields. I am doing this on a whim, sort of like the mustache I grew when I was 19 and still have in my 50's.

Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a state worker and a librarian.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The patron who comes in to use the Internet

With the advent of computers, public libraries have seen the exponential growth of the patron who comes in to use the Internet. In the past, this person would not have been a library user, since the library would have had nothing to offer him. In American society, although the world of reading and learning is extolled by every politician, most people only read books during that brief period of youth when the schoolteacher has a gun to their heads. Afterwards, their careers as library users came to a happy and fruitful conclusion.

In the past, young juvenile offenders were not library users. If you watch West Side Story you see no reference to libraries. Neither the Jets nor the Sharks would have any interest in coming to a library. That was before the Internet.

With prodding from the Federal government, libraries geared up in the 90’s to become computer centers. The Internet was going to fill libraries with a world of information and communication only dreamed of before. During those heady times it was never envisioned that the Internet would become a form of mass media, sort of a mixture of a telephone, cable television, a pinball machine and a peep show.

Today you walk through the modern public library and you see people of all ages and dress staring at computer terminals. What are they all doing? Let’s take a closer look. One woman is sending e-mail to her girl friend. A man is searching for a wife in Indonesia. A young student is playing what looks like a video game. The girl next to him is using Instant Messenger. A man in a t-shirt is looking at wrestling scores. A woman is shopping on E Bay for tights. Those giggling young things are looking at myspace.com.

Suddenly a popular destination, the Internet rooms stretch library budgets, and take up increasing per cent ages of staff member’s time. Extra chairs must be provided to allow for seating for the waiting to use the Internet area.

Recently libraries have been putting in wireless Internet connections. Sort of like a restaurant with a byob policy, the theory is that the patrons will bring in their own notebooks and simply use the library’s broadband connection. The electronic equivalent of corkage. However most people who own notebooks (they are still expensive) also have their own Internet connection at home.

Perhaps its good that libraries are no longer the cloistered repositories they once were. First came movies, then the Internet. Many librarians now find themselves in the real world. Even when they are at work.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your observations are, as usual, right on the money. I've always been in the real world of libraries and they have always included Internet access. And after 9 years of it, I am looking for another job.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Mister Mustache said...

Well don't get discouraged. I guess librarians have always been disappointed with the choice of materials their patrons make. Every librarian should work in a public library, at least for a while. It lets them know about life.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. M,

You are right about that! I'm glad the people can go somewhere that's relatively safe and get help from enlightened individuals such as ourselves. However, I'm itching to move on and try new things as this is the only game I've been playing and want to play another game. Grass isn't greener, just different. Like going from St. Augustine to Bermuda. It's grass but with a different set of problems all it's own.

10:47 AM  

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