From Cavewoman to Techie

Jan 17, 2017
Written by cmcguire
When I was in high school, no one except for the government, large universities and scientific companies had computers. These stone-age monsters filled entire buildings and operated on thousands of punch cards. In college, I still used a typewriter for my term papers. I used a computer for the first time creating a spreadsheet in an accounting class. I didn’t use a computer again until I started working and had to order merchandise electronically. All of this is no surprise to anyone who is around my age or older. But when I tell to my grandchildren or even my son about things like this, they look at me like I am a cavewoman. We have obviously advanced far beyond the technology many of us grew up with. Even with all of today’s innovations, libraries are more important than ever before.

All of this technology is not free or even affordable. Last year, my “old” smartphone, which was only 3 years old, died. My new phone cost more than $600 dollars. My cable and internet bill keeps going up. My laptop is 10 years old. It works fine, but runs on Windows Vista, which is no longer supported by the software manufacturer. I will have to spend more money on a new laptop if I want to run more up-to-date programs. My son recently bought a new car that has all kinds of technology built in, including a back-up camera and a wireless connection that plays music from his phone through the car’s stereo. This new-fangled car is amazing but cost him quite a lot. What is equally amazing is that the library is one place where you can gain access to a lot of technology, for free.

On January 1, we increased the number of items patrons can borrow on hoopla, one of our free digital sources for e-books, audiobooks, movies and music, from five to nine items per month. We have been hosting workshops to help people download this free digital content. The people we have helped are excited about having even more books and audiobooks to choose from. We now have smart TVs in both meeting rooms, which can be used for free by local groups who meet here. Children and teens enjoy playing video games at our Gaming program every week. And practically everyone who visits the library uses our upgraded, free WiFi network.

I am one of many people who still prefer to read a regular book, and yes, we still have lots of those and continue to add new ones every week. But I have been using the library’s digital sources to watch movies and listen to music with my old laptop and expensive smartphone. Whenever I finally pay off my phone, this cavewoman might get a tablet. By then there will be some new technological wonder. The library will be here to help you conquer it, or we can recommend the latest bestseller on the shelf. The future is yours.