Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Today, Customers Reign. (Editor's Notes)

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Today, Customers Reign. (Editor's Notes)

Article excerpt

Library service sure has changed over the past 10 or 20 years. Remember when it used to be all about books? Now it seems that books are in the background. Today, most of the services that librarians deal with are electronic.

Of course I shouldn't complain about the proliferation of computer-related services in today's libraries and information centers, because they're assuring me a job at a magazine called Computers in Libraries. Still, what started off as a few records going electronic has now completely taken over the library. The whole face of the industry has changed. Along the way, the whole face of the world has changed. What that means to us is that the public now expects everything to be computerized and simple. (They don't realize how hard it is to put those two things together--"computerized and simple.") People, especially young people, assume that the world will be at their fingertips, which are now always poised over their keyboards. If you're not online, you don't exist to them.

This brings us to this month's theme, Serving Web-Savvy Users. We chose this because we realize that the mind-set of today's information seekers has really changed the whole nature of the game. You used to be able to impress people when you found answers by searching mysterious unseen databases, didn't you? Then you could impress them by letting them see some of these expensive electronic collections on a few PCs in your library. Then you might have scared them by putting your whole card catalog behind a computer screen. …

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