With a rise in technology, public libraries have adapted to the needs/wants of their patrons. One of these adaptations is providing free access to the Internet.
Having free access to the Internet is essential for public libraries. Many patrons “believe that computers and Internet access are important,” while many still “value libraries’ traditional services, they also value and appreciate Internet and computer access in libraries. Two-thirds of Americans say that having enough computers and online services for people should be a high priority for their local libraries. Seven in 10 favor wiring libraries so that those who might not be able to afford computers in their home can learn computer skills and get online.”(38) The Manchester City Library has listened to their patrons by adding more computers. Many of the staff at the Manchester City Library said that having computers and free access to the internet will help the library stay relevant in the digital age. Many of the patrons that frequent the Manchester City Library do not have computers or access to the Internet. Denise van Zanten remarked that the “internet has opened up the world to many people but there are still members of our community who cannot afford internet service at home which is why maintaining Net Neutrality is so important.”(39) Even in this digital age, some people do not know how to use the computer, even the basic functions of checking an email. Susan Harmon stated:
“another way to stay relevant is to make sure we serve as a resource to educate the public on technology literacy. Many skills are being taught in schools, but adults new to technology don’t usually have many resources available to them. By making sure that everyone we provide internet services to knows how to uses it to fullest extent, we’ll make sure that the service does the most good.”(40)
Public libraries should be attuned to patrons’ needs and be a resource for those that struggle with technology. Public libraries have developed classes for technology literacy, and the Manchester City Library has followed this example. At the Manchester City Library, computer classes were offered in small group settings and 1-on-1. Lisa Jose (librarian at the Manchester City Library) said that 1-on-1 computer sessions were popular compared to that of small groups, “many people are afraid of larger groups.”(41) The Manchester City Library has developed technology literacy classes from everything in Microsoft Office including PowerPoint, Word, and Excel, in addition offering a course in ebooks use.
With the uncertain economy, public libraries should offer assistance for patrons who are looking for jobs. This goes hand in hand with technology literacy, today many jobs require some form of basic computer knowledge. For patrons who are new to the job market or those who have not been in the job market for a while, resume help would be beneficial. The Manchester City Library offers a 15 minute resume coach. This program has the potential to benefit many people, who are looking for a job, offering resume and cover letter examples, as well as how to develop a resume and encouragement for the job seeker.(42)
Forming partnerships with other organizations is a priority for public libraries. Click here to see how everyone benefits.