Every so often, someone asks me if libraries are really necessary now that we have Google.
We brought it on ourselves, I think.
There were a lot of librarians, pre-Google, who tried to define our profession solely on the idea of "information." Ask a librarian, and we'll look it up for you!
Then the Internet came along, then Google emerged as the top search engine. And the people who just would never take the time to phone a librarian, or stand in line at a desk to ask something, found Google marvelously convenient.
About a year ago, I let myself get talked into running for office.
This wasn't a political thing, not really. I ran to represent a regional library network to a much larger international body called "OCLC Membership Council."
OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) is a non-profit organization that sells various technical products and services to libraries around the world. Its flagship product is something called WorldCat -- a database of the cataloged items of all its members. We're talking billions of records.
At the beginning of my career, the buzz was all about "automation."
Most libraries in the late 70's and early 80's used one of two methods to handle the checkouts. Most common was a paper-based checkout card system. You slid the library card, with its metal plate, into a device, then inserted the book cards, one by one, to be ka-chunked and stamped with a due date. That night, all of the cards had to be manually filed -- by author for fiction, and by Dewey Decimal number for non-fiction.
It could be that I hung around with the wrong kind of kids in high school. Now that I think of it, I probably WAS the wrong kind of kid in high school, and that's why they hung around with me.
My daughter's experience has been different, and almost certainly better. She's a senior at Douglas County High School. She's also in the International Baccalaureate program.
I have to say, when I watched her, for 2 years now, bring home some 4 hours of homework each night, I wondered if that was altogether good.