PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
For more than 100 years, "going to the library" has meant making a personal visit to the Carnegie Building at 4th and Slack Streets in downtown Steubenville. Since the 1930s, "going to the library" could mean visiting one of the branch libraries located around the county. In 1987, "going to the library" involved visiting the Schiappa Branch on Mall Drive, which offers Sunday hours. In recent times, "going to the library" consisted of sitting down at your home computer and accessing www.steubenville.lib.oh.us
The Internet address is on your library card, it is on the library ad in the telephone book Yellow Pages. It is a new address, a new place to go for library services. Our web page, or e-branch, has just been reconstructed into a new generation of library web pages, ready to use just like entering one of our physical buildings. Look at the front door of our electronic branch. The most popular feature is located in the upper left hand corner, the "card catalog." I don't know how much longer we will continue using that terminology, the actual card catalog disappeared in 1993, but people still identify that that grand cabinet that was filled with 3 x 5 cards for every book in the library.
Now the online system is called "iPAC" Information Public Access Catalog. It is an access to over 5 million items in 68 libraries that can be requested electronically for pickup at your local library. It is very popular with the public; some 25,000 hits are reported in any month. More people use the catalog at home than in the library.
Another popular feature of our e-branch is called "Know It Now! 24 x 7" a statewide information system that allows you to connect by computer to librarians who can answer your information request. Special assistance is available after 2:00 pm in a system called "Homework Now!" with specific assistance for school research. E-books are available online from the e-branch. Real books are online that can be downloaded for your use, and disappear automatically at the end of the loan period.
The Digital Shoebox Collection is an online local history database developed by 10 area libraries to share actual digitized information, and preserve it for the future. Our library has about 170 book titles about local and state history, which have been digitized and are available from any Internet computer.
Many information databases are available online with your library card, under the banner of OPLIN OneSearch on the right hand of the e-branch. You can search a topic in the OneSearch database, or select individual databases on the drop down window. Most databases have full text information from newspapers, magazines, journals, and books, which can be downloaded and printed if you desire.
The Children's services section has the ever-popular "Web Kids, Web Tots, and Web Tween" sites developed by OPLIN for library users. They are all award-winning sites for kids, tots, and teens.
We still want you to visit libraries, and talk to the real people who staff the libraries. It is the best of both worlds, online library services and real people in person or on the phone. The public library continues to do what it has done for a century, provide information to the public. All that has changed are the tools we have to use.