I want all the books.
That statement is a little misleading. I don’t want all the books for me personally; I want them for the library. And I don’t really want all the books; these books don’t interest me, except for their comedic value. I guess what I mean is, I want several good books for every topic in the case of nonfiction, and every book that is either of high quality or in high demand in the case of fiction. Needless to say, that can’t ever happen, due to limits of budget (which won’t go away until we start charging $1,000 per day for late items) and space (which won’t go away until libraries look like the New New York Library pictured above). These limits ensure I’ll never have my ideal collection. That sad fact, however, does not have to prevent our library patrons from obtaining ideal information, which is a mostly-pleasant-yet-somewhat-mentally-irreconcilable truth I sometimes forget for the silliest reason:
I forget about the Internet.
Blasphemy, I know. We all surrendered to the Internet’s awesome power long ago. Why, we’re all on it right now. How could I ever forget it? Well, it’s not so much that I forget about the Internet itself (I’m just full of misleading statements today), but rather that it has high quality, book-level information on it, floating dignifiedly alongside the sensational, the filthy, the entertaining, and the cutest things you’ll ever see.
Thankfully, yesterday, I was given a reassuring reminder. Some fantastic folks from UNT’s Health Science Center were kind enough to come out and provide health literacy training for our staff members. During the training, we were asked to share our experiences with helping patrons with medical questions. I answered that except for on a few occasions when I’ve used a trusted medical database, I typically end up putting a book in the hands of those seeking medical information. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with such a bookish approach, I learned over the course of the training that it isn’t always the best approach, because the digital world is packing more than its share of honest-to-goodness authoritative information. Legitimate, respectable organizations like the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and many more have freely accessible websites that are just begging to be utilized to help health info seekers.
I came away from the training feeling great for two reasons: Numero uno, I have renewed confidence in my ability to be optimally helpful during the often tricky and scary exercise of assisting with medical questions*, and secondly, I’ve been reassured that I don’t in fact have to have all the books, because the Internet has my back. Thanks, Internet. I’ll never forget you again…until I do, make a similar promise, and repeat the cycle forevermore.
*Don’t worry, we merely point to resources and information here; we never play doctor. We know we’d be about as effective as this guy.