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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Donations to the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recently, the Jefferson County Dept. of Job and Family Services provided the library system with copies of 5 books in observance of National Adoption Awareness Month.


Three of the books are for parents, and are “Adopting the Hurt Child,” “Parenting the Hurt Child,” both authored by Dr. Gregory C. Keck; and “Telling the Truth to Your Adopted Child,” by Betsy Keefer.


The remaining two books are “The Mulberry Bird,” and “A Mother for Choco,” both being children’s books.


I thank the agency for thinking of the library as a place for information that can be shared with everyone.


Providing such information to the public at the library allows everyone to share resources and collaborate as a community.


Thinking back over my 28 years with the library system, there have been countless agencies and organizations that have done the same thing, and shared information and materials through the library system.


As I have confessed before, the public library is quickly becoming the agency that remains today with real physical locations and people working the telephones and service desks, as so many other agencies, departments, and offices have closed and disappeared from our society.


Online access and the Internet have been great tools for our society, and allow information to be right at your fingertips.


There are times, however, that you would like to call and talk to a human being regarding an information issue.


Perhaps your need doesn’t fit into the automated phone system, and you can’t choose the right number from the menu.  You go through the whole option of services, and end up with a dial tone.


Or you are on the website of a company or government agency, and you click on “Contact Us” and leave a detailed electronic message to find that it dropped into the abyss of the Internet never to be seen or read by anyone anywhere.


So many times we find someone standing at the library desk with an exhausted, worn out look, desperate for an answer.  They have traveled in circles around the Internet, played phone tag with machines, to be left nowhere.


I can’t guarantee that the public library will always have the answer, but we will “give it a try” and see if we can connect you with the information you desire.


Many librarians call it “detective work.”  We receive many similar questions over and over to the point that we keep cheat sheets so we don’t keep looking up the same thing over and over.


“Who was John Scott Highway named for?”


“What are the 2 (or 4) English words that end in –gry?”


Some questions come and go, others have been around since I started in library work, the common factor is that all questions are important to the person asking, and no one should be embarrassed to ask.


Librarians are famous for networking and collaborating, and this has grown with technology.  Our automated library catalog now contains 78 library systems and over 6 million holdings.


Some 75,000 pages of local information have been digitized and are online, with more added annually.


We have contracts for numerous databases, and I know lots of librarians across the state.  It is amazing the answers that come from posted e-Mails among a bunch of librarians.


It is actually nothing new, just the tools have changed.  In 1938, the librarian asked if it was okay to have long-distance phone calls on the library line, as she had called the library in Dennison to get the answer to someone’s question.


The Library Board said it was fine, that’s why “we are here” and using the new long-distance phone service was worth the cost.