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July 13, 2010 > Alameda County Library News: Libraries and the internet: how the internet has changed your life

Alameda County Library News: Libraries and the internet: how the internet has changed your life

The internet first began as a concept in the 1960s and widespread commercialization around the world arrived in the 1990s. Arrival of the internet has changed all of our lives, certainly the world of libraries; how library staff do their work and how you use your neighborhood library. Not only has the internet changed our lives, the internet itself is constantly evolving. Initially the internet was only about passive viewing of information. Now, with Web 2.0, the internet is about information sharing, collaboration, interoperability and user-centered design. Web 2.0 has given us social networking sites, wikis, blogs, twitter and video-sharing websites.

Has information and the way we retrieve and use information changed that much? Yes. Take a look at this chart from the Pew Research Center for the Internet and American Life:

The Industrial Age
Information was:
Scarce
Expensive
Institutionally oriented
Designed for consumption


The Information Age
Information is:
Abundant
Cheap
Personally oriented
Designed for participation

Staff of the Newark Library and many patrons who use our library have related some of the most important ways the internet has made a positive contribution to their daily lives:
* Virtual garage sale: ability to easily buy and sell stuff on sites such as eBay and Craigslist. Other sites such as Freecycle are ultimate recyclers, allowing users to find free items and give away things no longer needed.
* Social connector: allows contact with family and friends no matter where they live using email and web sites such as Facebook and MySpace. The internet provides new ways to find romance using online dating sites such as eHarmony and Catholic Singles.
* Job market: the internet is the place to advertise and find jobs.
* Online education: the internet is a go-to place for a college diploma, training classes for work and lifelong learning.
* Way finder: no one should be lost anymore with the advent of MapQuest and Yahoo maps.

The Internet changed libraries:
* Library patrons can access their account via our website and check on due dates, requests and place new requests.
* Research can be done using the internet instead of physical reference books.
* The card catalog has been replaced with a computer database and a website.
* Libraries increasingly provide information in an electronic format. Examples include: eBooks and eAudiobooks which library users can access from home.
* Magazine and newspapers are being replaced by amazing databases that allow library users access to thousands of articles, with full text.
* The Library is able to provide excellent electronic databases for specialized information. Just to give you a few examples: Ancestry.com for genealogy research, Literature Resource Center for doing research on authors , Reference USA for doing research for you business, Mango for learning a new language and Learning Express for test preparation such as the citizenship test and job tests.

For more information contact: Kathy Steel-Sabo, Alameda County Libraries, Newark Library manager ksteel@aclibrary.org (510) 795-2627 x 11 www.aclibrary.org

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