Local News

Libraries Lend Learners Online Access to Information

Posted August 5, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— When we think of libraries, books are usually the first thing to come to mind. But that image is quickly changing as libraries get wired with the latest technology.

Officials at theEva Perry Librarysay computers are attracting people here by the thousands. Computers were installed two years ago and already almost 2,000 people log on to them each month.

Wake County Public Librariesare attracting everyone from toddlers to their grandparents.

Most are looking for information, but not from books. They are looking online.

"They're empowering patrons to find the information themselves," computer systems administrator David Stratton says of the new computers.

Library records show more than 21,000 patrons found information themselves via the Internet at the Eva Perry Library last year, almost double the number that logged on the previous year.

People are attracted to Internet connections that are 350 times faster than the 28.8 modem found in many homes.

Library patrons can also accessexpensive services, including online encyclopedias andStandard & Poor'sNet Advantage, software many people do not have at home.

"There's a lot of information out there on the Internet, but some of the really good stuff is by subscription only," says Carol McCollum, electronic resources librarian. "We have subscriptions to certain services that would be too expensive for people to have on their own."

Staff members and user-friendly home pages also help people less familiar with navigating the information superhighway.

"You may be able to find the same information out there, but we have the ability to collect all that information on our Web page and make that information more accessible," says Stratton. "Our role is changing from being the information answer to the information provider."

Wake County libraries will spend more money than ever on technology this year -- one million dollars. Considering the source of the funds is their patrons, they see it as money well spent.

The Wake County library system also offers free Internet classes on Saturdays. For more information, contact your local library branch.