Why Libraries Aren't Typewriters
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When the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in Evansville, IN, sought the Vanderburgh City Council’s approval to open one or two new branches, the response they received was less than encouraging.
In fact, City Council member and Finance Chair James Raben likened investing in new library branches to investing in typewriters in today’s computer age:
“It is like investing in typewriters today—extending and building more new libraries when their own board admittedly says there is no foot traffic, and we need to be considering closing them.”
Community members fought back, using typewriters to compose letters to the Council and remind them of the many services the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library (EVPL) provides for the community.
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EVPL librarian Jake Kohlmeyer posted a list on Facebook recounting the work he’d done to support community members in just the past two weeks.
- Helped a community member learn how to access graphics tools and design an album cover.
- Helped that same person add art to their music to make a video and then upload it to YouTube.
- Coached a community member on how to access genealogy tools online for free.
- Assisted a student in locating the back issues of a newspaper for a research project.
- Guided a non-digital native in accessing online newspapers.
- Helped a community member access their online language instruction classes.
- Finished lesson plans for a tech class that teaches community members how to use Google Calendar.
- Registered multiple community members for computer instruction classes.
- Proofread a resume for a single parent who recently achieved their GED.
- Helped photocopy old baby photos for a community member who’d recently located long-lost relatives through a DNA test.
- Tracked items for interlibrary loan requests.
- Analyzed the library’s collection to create a “Things You May Have Missed Last Year” display to spotlight materials from 2022 with low circulation.
- Did FTC training to better support documents and informational guides provided to the public.
- Answered countless in-the-moment calls about phone numbers, the weather, and where things are located.
Kohlmeyer encouraged the Evansville Vanderburgh community to “[l]ook at the magic that is EVPL and see the impact of EVPL’s team, facilities, and collections—physical and digital—and how there are many, many people who need us.”
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To his credit, Raben saw the error in his former statement and quickly backtracked.
He told Eyewitness News, “I apologize to anybody that [statement] may have offended, but we are not, nobody on council, including myself, would support closing down any libraries or anything like that.”
The Evansville Public Library intends to move forward with new facilities as soon as funding is available.
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