Impact of Technology on the Library
Access to training opportunities for technology can be a problem in rural South Carolina, and even in the largest cities, opportunities are seldom sufficient to meet the needs imposed by rapidly changing technology. The former library director noted, “We have to train ourselves for the most part so we encourage each other to reach beyond what we know.” The library holds in-service training for its staff two half days per year. Staff members teach each other based on the courses they have attended. The approach has encouraged team building and learning how to work together. Everyone agrees to serve as a teacher and looks forward to it. Library staff members report that the South Carolina State Library provides excellent training for staff at all levels. The library tries to send each staff member once a year to these offerings. For example, Georgetown sent 98 percent of the staff to a free Internet training course.
Staff members report that the state library also provides strong support by phone for technical questions, but training, learning by doing, and phone support are not enough. Library managers would like to have a technical person on the staff to address hardware and software problems. A local computer club, which has helped the library in training the staff and the public, may be called in for volunteer technical support.
Public services librarian Trudy Bazemore and reference librarian James Carolina report that electronic information has already had a significant impact on reference service. At the reference desk, access to the Internet has changed the pattern and order in which they use reference tools to help people. Certain key reference tools that are bulky in print form, updated frequently, and heavily consulted will be acquired only online. Saving shelf space is important. They note that having access to the Internet has made it easier to interest patrons in research and involve them in doing the research themselves. Also, local online access to journals has reduced the need to get back volumes in microfilm and to bind back issues.