Continuing Education (CAPSTONE) Department
BA in Interdisciplinary Studies
The libraries of the United States are integral and valued parts of the communities and institutions they serve. There are a number of kinds of libraries commonplace in the United States, including public, school, college and university, legal, and research libraries, each of which has a constituency they serve. The libraries with which people have the greatest familiarity and the two types they utilize on the most frequent basis are the public libraries, those which primarily serve municipalities, and school libraries, those which serve kindergarten through twelfth grade schools. It is upon these two that this paper places its greatest emphasis. Public and school libraries have been changed for the better by and their patrons benefited from the adoption of advanced means of access to library materials, such as computerized library catalogs, online databases for research, and computers available for public use. Libraries are now much more than buildings housing collections of books and periodicals, where children gather for “story hour” on Saturday mornings. Libraries and librarians are now challenged as well by both the actuality and the pace of technological advance in American society, most especially by the recent availability and capability of the digitization of data and documents. The digital revolution has caused many in society including policy makers, citizens-at- large, and librarians themselves to ask whether it is important that libraries be relevant to their communities. This paper will address the question of why relevant libraries are important to American society and how librarians are working to maintain and enhance their libraries' relevance.