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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Public Library 2.0

In junior high I'd ride my bike several miles to the library and ride back with a stack of books balanced on my handle bars. I read a lot of science fiction and studied everything from gemology and sailing to computers and lasers. In high school I started frequenting book stores more and more because the materials were up to date but I still made it to the library about once a quarter. Following high-school though I almost never went to the library; it was inconvenient and I seldom found what I wanted.

A few years ago I check my local library website out of curiosity and found that everything about libraries had changed. Welcome to what I'd like to call Public Library 2.0: the interactive online experience. Now you can:

  • Search the catalog of all libraries in your area and reserve books online.
  • Get an email notification when your book is available and pick it up at the location of your choice within 7 days.
  • Renew online if you need the book longer.
  • Get access to difficult to find books through the inter-library loan program. Library staff will locate the book by contacting college and private libraries. They'll have it shipped to them, and call you so that you can pick it up (this is great for technical books, even recently released ones).
  • Download popular audio books online and listen to them up to 2 weeks.
  • View your account online (books / requests / fines).

Because of the convenience of all of this I now rely on the Jacksonville Public Library as a reliable source of current information. I can't guarantee that your library will live up to these high standards, but I'd encourage you to take a few minutes to check your local library website and find out.