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Rockford’s Public Library is thinking of its patrons

Can you imagine the world today if everybody shunned technological advances as some of the Rockford library patrons are suggesting? What would have happened if Henry Ford had stopped the design of his automobile, faced with today’s objections to his invention because of its effects on the horse and buggy companies, the blacksmiths, or those who simply couldn’t afford to buy it?

How many millions of people would be without jobs in America without the automobile, Bill Gates’ software, Michael Dell’s computers or Steve Jobs’ devices and networks working together increasing our ability to do things quicker and more efficiently?

People can not continually adjust their lives or make decisions solely based on the lowest common denominator. Some people will not be able to use it, some people lack the technical knowledge and some don’t have the resources to take advantage of the technology but that doesn’t mean you stop progress until everyone catches up – not in a global economy – not for long.

The library is correct in its decision to embrace every facet of the technology that is now available and those enhancements that will be developed in the future, lest they be left behind in the inevitable shift from the bookshelves.

The movies, DVDs and music that are checked out each day at the library have advanced from the 8mm or super 8mm movie reels and the music is no longer on 78 or 45 rpm records. The library must remain relevant for those patrons that can’t afford the new technology and provide them with the opportunity to increase their skills in its use.

Today, patrons check out thousands of books without ever coming to the library. Online courses are increasing in the community and four-year colleges. Apple is starting to sell iPads that could replace a satchel of textbooks. Of course, those displaced by the new technology seldom have the acquired skills to find a job with the new technology without training to improve their skills.

Members of “Save our Library” and the Rockford branch of the NAACP need to look for ways to expand the horizons of individuals in their groups to obtain eReaders and increase access of their members to wireless internet, not hinder everyone else who have already taken the necessary steps to achieve success in a future filled with technology.

Do the members of these respective groups still view only three channels on their tube television sets, or listen to Arthur Godfrey on their radios, or little Orphan Annie, or music on their phonographs? Of course not – they have flat screen TVs, with surround sound, iPods for music, with the internet and hundreds of apps on their iPhones. Public services should also be required to keep current with technology.

Well, the future takes a little more effort than just learning how to read and many need to be trained in order to make the transition. It’s time to get started. They have a long way to go and a short time to get there. It’s time for groups to help those who haven’t yet started the journey into the future, not hamper those who are already on their way.

To the library board of trustees, there doesn’t always have to be balance. The future shift to digital is significant and is here right now. The library needs to be a part of the consortium of Illinois libraries and not a stand alone, unique system that is not compatible with larger systems because it’s cheaper.

It’s not cheaper in the long term and Rockford will once again be left behind because of antiquated systems based on doing things the way it’s always been done, using public employee unions who will undoubtedly demonstrate against this latest concept.

Let’s begin the transfer to the digital library world together for once and help those who need our help, whether they are patrons who don’t comprehend electronic readers or employees who need retraining as their antiquated jobs become obsolete.

The future is now! The library is doing what is necessary in order to remain relevant and to best serve their patrons. Those groups wishing to live in the past to keep their horse and buggy jobs, stop forcing the rest of us to live according to the lowest common denominator in Rockford and paying for the inefficient privilege to do so!

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