Published on February 29, 2016
“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”
Albert knew. And many people today know. Libraries are amazing resources, community assets, and treasure troves of knowledge. But what makes them so amazing? Here are nine things we think make libraries unique and valuable.
1. Librarians. Whether they’re helping students find information to complete a homework assignment, supporting local businesses with competitive data, working with faculty to develop supplemental course materials, locating rare materials for research, or developing community outreach programs, librarians perform miracles daily. Public, academic, school, and special librarians use their unique skills to connect people to information, and in a world overflowing with information, that’s a valuable skill.
2. Historical information. Libraries are repositories of rare, unique information. But archives now extend beyond the library’s walls, as libraries connect to great digital collections, such as Gale Digital Collections, which brings 900 years of primary sources to users’ fingertips. Whether British newspaper archives, personal papers, early printed books, or other rare materials, researchers can access and analyze resources that were previously nearly inaccessible.
3. Current information. While the Internet is known for delivering up-to-the-minute information incessantly, it does not necessarily provide context. Libraries provide tools for evaluating information and guide users to resources that provide context and deeper dives. Gale’s In Context series is particularly effective at helping students dig deeper into topics to understand the complexity and landscape surrounding issues with up-to-date information, while fully supporting curricula standards.
4. Tools to analyze information. Similarly, when people are looking for help analyzing information, libraries can help. Sophisticated tools available in libraries help deliver analysis of, say, business trends (see Gale Directory Library resources) or literary trends (using Gale’s Artemis).
5. Books. Libraries and books are intrinsically joined at the hip. And in spite of broad program offerings and technology resources, some libraries find that three out of five most its heavily used resources are book related. Books remain a major reason to visit the library – whether those books are print, audio, large print, or other formats. And who doesn’t love books?
6. Programs. Libraries provide programs to reach people of all ages – from children’s story time to makerspaces to technology courses for seniors. They work to fulfill their role as a complete community resource.
7. Technology. Only libraries support their communities with free use of computers and wifi, in addition to rich information resources. Armed with this access, people of all ages and ability can complete research, apply for jobs, stay in touch with the world, and much more.
8. Accessibility. With more and more information moving from print to digital, the ability for everyone to be able to access digital information is more important than ever. Libraries provide people with a place (physical and virtual) to access organized, validated information that can help them make informed decisions, complete assignments, explore personal interests, and much more.
9. Learning. The library, always the province of learning and enlightenment, is going a step further. In addition to provide information, access to knowledge, community resources, personal development programming, and (of course) story time for kids, some public libraries are now actively engaging in supporting learning — even providing a path for adults to achieve a high school diploma, through the Career Online High School. In addition, school and academic libraries support personal discovery through in-depth research resources, such as GVRL eBooks, In Context resources, and many more.
At Gale, we’re pretty keen on libraries and their mission to make information accessible and to enable learning. To support that mission, we combine sophisticated research and discovery tools with content spanning the globe and the centuries and create the resources leaders and innovators need to spark ideas, start conversations, and satisfy curiosities. And with 60+ years of experience, Gale is a leading provider of research resources to libraries and businesses. We’re passionate about supporting their continued innovation and evolution. In fact, virtually every K-12 school, university, and public library in the United States uses Gale products, helping advance scholarship and support economic, cultural, and intellectual growth in the communities we serve.
Simply put, Gale helps libraries and institutions make knowledge accessible to people around the world as they seek to develop theories, pursue ideas, and fulfill their potential. We believe that together, we have the power to change lives.