The New Public Library: Becoming More Than an ISP

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					40       InformationToday
May 2009

                                                                                                                      They conclude that “al-          ‘A Marketplace of Ideas’
                                                                                                                      though the social roles of
                                                                                                                      the public library in the net-      The authors conclude that “instead of
                                                                                                                      worked society are clearly       finding ways to best use the new tech-
                                                                                                                      still rapidly evolving, there    nologies to support their traditional social
                                                                                                                      are identifiable trends in       roles, public libraries seem to be reducing
                                                                                                                      library activities and poli-     those roles and increasing the provision of
                                                                                                                      cies that show them claim-       Internet-enabled services,” and they are
                                                                                                                      ing certain social roles in      opposed to this. Public libraries shouldn’t
                                                                                                                      terms of the Internet and        just turn into internet providers but should
                                                                                                                      avoiding others.”                continue their “social role of a market-
                                                                                                                          These trends show up         place of ideas.” In order for this to happen,
                                                                                                                      in the ways that libraries       libraries need to integrate service plan-
                                                                                                                      provide internet access,         ning with technology planning and watch
                                                                                                                      give entry to egovernment,       their programs and services to see where
                                                                                                                      and provide internet train-      they are spending.
                                                                                                                      ing, among other things.            This book is definitely not a how-to
                                                                                                                      As of 2007, 99.7% of pub-        guide; it is designed to stimulate discus-
                                                                                                                      lic libraries were connected     sion and further research. The authors

     The New Public Library:                                                                                          to the internet and 99.1%
                                                                                                                      offered free internet access.
                                                                                                                      However, high demand for
                                                                                                                                                                       Public libraries
     Becoming More Than an ISP                                                                                        free internet access means
                                                                                                                      that loads are placed on the
                                                                                                                      technology and infrastruc-
                                                                                                                                                                        shouldn’t just
                                                                                                                                                                    turn into internet
                                                                                                                      ture of libraries, which
     by GWEN M. GREGORY       |                       thors’ goals are to summarize the mass        must be updated periodically. While in-                              providers but
                                                      of current research on the topic, to offer    ternet access provided by public libraries
      Public Libraries and Internet                   strategies to practitioners, to encourage     doesn’t necessarily have to be on the cut-                        should continue
      Service Roles: Measuring and                    scholarly discussion and research, and to     ting edge, users may stop coming to use                       their ‘social role of
      Maximizing Internet Services                    promote consideration of these issues from    it if it is of poor quality or is unreliable.
             by Charles R. McClure                    a “broad social perspective.”                 And because the internet is also impor-                            a marketplace
               and Paul T. Jaeger                                                                   tant in providing many other services, it                                of ideas.’
              Chicago: ALA, 2009                                                                    can affect all aspects of library service,
            ISBN: 978-0-8389-3576-7
                                                      The Library’s ‘Service Roles’                 from research with online databases to
            112 pages; $65, softcover                    The book begins with an emphasis on        conducting educational programs.                   hope to “ensure that the public
                                                      the place that public libraries have in our                              
Description: Public Libraries and Internet Service Roles: Measuring and Maximizing Internet Services, by Charles R. McClure and Paul T. Jaeger, is reviewed.
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