The Tartan

Cary Library embraces changes of the 21st century

By Sarah LaLond, Staff Writer

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While libraries do still adhere to some age old stereotypes, (the stacks of books, the quiet atmosphere, students doing homework.) they have adjusted the way they operate to secure their place in the 21st century. Mona Reynolds, Head of Public Services at the Cary Area Public Library (CAPL) provides a clearer picture of the 21st century library.

Reynolds has consistently worked in libraries for over 15 years, beginning in high school. Her love for reading motivated her to get her Masters in Library Sciences from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She started working at the CAPL in 2015, and was heavily involved in the library’s $2.6 million renovation in late 2016.

Throughout the years that Reynolds has worked in the library system, she has witnessed the revolutionary power of technology at work. Faster, better technology has changed the face of countless institutions, and libraries are no exception. Libraries have always had the bread and butter of computers, printers, and fax machines, but now they offer even more technology based services. Your local library could offer 3D pens, mobile wifi hotspots, or GoPro cameras. Reynolds has also seen a greater focus on STEM fields, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Library patrons can choose to check out an Ozobot, a mini robot, or Wired for Science Kits, which help people explore a range of different topics from solar power to the night sky to circuitry.

Technology has worked wonders for the library system, but it has also posed a challenge. Reynolds talked about the challenges of keeping up with the demand of constantly evolving technology. Another newer challenge libraries are facing within the last decade is balancing the funding that goes into different materials. Librarians need to maintain a healthy balance of print vs. online vs.

Reynold’s favorite feature of a 21st century library is the Book an Expert service. This allows library patrons to have one-on-one interaction with a librarian, who is an expert on any number of topics. People can get a walkthrough of a computer program, or learn how to use AccuQuilt Die Cuts to make a quilt. Libraries are now more personalized than ever. The CAPL not only uses technology to offer more services to its patrons, but also to interact with them. Libraries have always strived to be centered on community, and the introduction of technology has allowed libraries to be even more in touch with the needs and preferences of its members. The CAPL is able to have a greater community engagement through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. The library wants to hear what people think, and social media is giving them a great platform to interact with the community.

The CAPL is small town library, yet it is still keeping up with technology trends. Interacting with the community has allowed the library to be place where students can study quietly in private rooms or moms can bring their children to play. Whether you’re looking for a book for school, a new hobby, or a fishing pole, the library of the 21st century is a good place to check.

 

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