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Are Libraries Relevant In The Internet Age?


Julie Gammack


Ann Schultis ’ 73 ,director of library systems for Park University, says there are three fallacies about the Internet today that must be dispelled:
Fallacy 1: Everything is on the Internet.
Fallacy 2: If it’s on the Internet it must be true.
Fallacy 3: Everyone has access to the Internet.

Schultis is very concerned that students who rely completely on the Internet are missing a great deal of information. “Eighty percent of all books are not on the Internet,” she says, “and although the student may find 20 articles in a topic area, she is missing quite a bit with this tunnel vision that comes from the fallacy that everything is on the Internet or that anything on the Internet is true.”

There are also many who remain without the Internet, she notes, especially in rural areas where a connection could be a long-distance call or access at all is an issue.

Cornell education professor Gayle Luck says when she grows up she wants to be a librarian. “Libraries are essential,” she says. “ Many years ago, when I was a counselor in the Ankeny Community School District, people said we wouldn’t need teachers any more because computers were going to take over.”

Just as schools still employ teachers and count on them to use computers to help children learn, so it is with libraries. Computers add to a library’s capabilities but they cannot replace libraries. Librarians help people tap the full potential of electronic resources.

Authenticity is a real concern for Luck: “I could write a paper on something I know nothing about, but I could put it on the Web and readers might not recognize my bias or ineptitude unless they knew the subject.”

Luck, in her 14th year of teaching, is spending a great deal of time during her sabbatical at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. The CCBC is a non-circulating library that contains children’s and adolescent books published in the past 18 months. As the books do not circulate, one is assured that the most recent titles are available to be read in the library. The books cannot be read from the CCBC Web site.

Like most students today, senior Erika Banks was familiar with the Internet but says it wasn’t until she took advantage of the offerings from the library that she learned how to use it more effectively. Banks is the academic affairs chair of Student Senate. “I can’t say enough good things about Jean Donham. She’s unified the library with the college—the faculty, students, and librarians,” she says.

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