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Let's say you're interested in traveling to Italy. You get on the Internet, type in Italy, and wait for the exact travel information you want to come back to you. But, the travel information you want is embedded somewhere in the 4,930,000 sites it took your search engine less than a few seconds to find.
In our information society, we are constantly bombarded by messages. There are more than 27 million Internet sites, with close to three billion Web pages. Millions of new Web pages are introduced every day. And even the best search engines are capable of finding less than 50% of what's available on any given topic.
So how do we live successfully in an information society? How can we find the nuggets of wisdom that we need to make good personal and civic decisions? Most importantly, how do you find that exact travel information you need to plan your next vacation?
Libraries bring you the world
The answer, thankfully, is not nearly as complex as the problem. In fact, it's right in your own back yard. It's your library. There are more than 120,000 public, school, academic and special libraries across the country that put the world at our fingertips. Where else can you have access to nearly everything in print and online all in one place? Internet connections, online databases and computer training courses put your library at the forefront of the information age, making information accessible regardless of your age, income or background. With today's library technology, libraries are reaching beyond their walls to connect to the larger, global community. Pittsburgh reaches Paris and Boise links to Beijing. Today's library technology means that information from around the world is just a few clicks away and connects us like never before. And the good news is that there are still all those great books, videos, magazines and journals you have come to expect and enjoy at your library.
Libraries are changing and dynamic places
Today's libraries are not the quiet places you remember. They are modern community centers for information, education and entertainment where the whole community comes together. From preschool story hour to homework help, from academic research to special collections, libraries are as vibrant as ever.
And the ultimate search engine, to help you navigate through today's information age, is your librarian. Our nation's 140,000 librarians are experts in our ever-changing world of information. They help people of all ages find the resources they need and want, whether it's a book, a video or a Web site. They also teach adults and children alike critical information literacy skills — the skills to find, use and evaluate information in all formats. In a world that's information rich, librarians are information smart. They'll help you find the right answer @ your library.
In colleges and universities, librarians gather, organize and preserve information for scholars and researchers to utilize in developing solutions for the future. In corporations, law offices, consulting firms and government, librarians research and prepare briefings and reports used by top executives and officials to make important decisions. In schools, librarians work collaboratively with teachers to teach students the skills they need not only to do homework, but also to find and use information throughout their lives. In public libraries, librarians are training adults and children to use new technology like the Internet effectively and responsibly.
Libraries are places of opportunity
Libraries are part of the American Dream, places for education, self-help and lifelong learning. Whether you are starting a small business, planning for college or pursuing a new hobby, your library can get you started. Libraries provide children with their first exposure to books, teach families how to safely navigate the Internet together; help doctors research the latest medical findings; and provide students young and old with the resources to write everything from a book report to a dissertation. They help immigrants adjust to a new way of life, help us rediscover our heritage through multilingual collections and bring arts and culture to our doorstep through lectures, musical performances and art exhibits. There's something for everyone @ your library.
So when did you last spend some time at your library? If it's been awhile, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how libraries have embraced the latest technological advances while maintaining the traditional programs and services that have made them one of America's most dynamic and respected institutions.
If you haven't been lately, come take another look @ your library. Instead of being overwhelmed by the information that's out there, find someone to help you make sense of it all. Your librarian will help you plan your vacation in Italy and a whole lot more.
Everything you want to know about everything you want to know and friendly, expert advice too. It's all @ your library.
@ your library™ The Campaign for America's Libraries c.2001 American Library Association