Appreciating Value in Digital Resources

3 min read

| By Andrea Corvin, Edgewood Community Library, New Mexico |

A young patron entered the glass doors of our small library in central New Mexico and began to hesitantly browse the nonfiction section. I perked up right away because kids of his ilk (tweenagers) are, at times, a rare commodity. Desperate to make contact with such an infrequent and somewhat discerning library inhabitant, I approached my subject with a studied casualness akin to a naturalist documenting a chance encounter with an exotic species.

I assumed a nonchalant lean against the shelf, hooked a thumb in my jeans pocket, and asked, “Were you looking for anything in particular?” He glanced up at me from a bottom shelf, tactfully overlooking my awkward posture and strained inquiry, and explained we had only a few books covering the War of 1812. He needed multiple, diverse resources for his report. Bolstered by his sustained eye contact and penchant for academic research, I recognized my chance to amaze and delight. I puffed out my chest, propping my fists on my hips with cape grandly swirling behind me and proclaimed, “Have no fear, young citizen of Edgewood, Gale is here (insert fanfare)!”

Teeming with a barely controlled excitement at having scored a library “win”, I showed him how to access Gale, pointing out a couple features here and there. He made short work of his research, finding all the information he needed and left the library seemingly content. One might even go as far to say that he was quite impressed by my librarian prowess.

Like many public libraries in New Mexico, Edgewood Community Library is modest and rural with limited resources at its disposal. We mostly allocate our small acquisitions budget toward popular requests and trending literature, leaving room for little else. This means that it is very difficult to justify purchasing pricey reference, academic, and/or nonfiction works on subjects that may only circulate a couple of times, especially since shelf space is, like our tweenage visitors, a commodity.

Luckily, the New Mexico State Library provides statewide access to Gale databases, filling in any collection gaps and providing easy access to a plethora of vetted information otherwise unavailable to our patrons. Thus, enabling my reputation as the all-knowing librarian to remain untarnished.

About the Author

Although Andrea has a BBA, she found herself applying for a library position in her hometown nearly nine years ago, immediately adopting a keen appreciation for all the rewarding and occasionally bizarre experiences associated with public library work.  She lives in Edgewood, New Mexico with a sassy five-year-old daughter, two rude goats, a fluffy miniature horse, eight lazy chickens, two geriatric dogs, two very aloof cats, and an ever patient, loving husband.

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