Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy birthday to ZBPL!

The Zion Public Library opened its doors on Wednesday, March 3, 1937.   March 3 fell on a Saturday this year, just right for the Zion-Benton Public Library's 75th anniversary party.  A good time was had by all!  

Zion-Benton Public Library’s Diamond Anniversary is one for the books!
(my "Perspectives" column for the Zion-Benton News, 2/23/12) 
Getting a shave at the corner barbershop. Making a deposit at the town bank.   Reading a book from the library.  Scenes from a bygone era?  The world has not changed beyond all recognition.  
Walk into the Zion-Benton Public Library.  You’ll find row upon row of books, a lively youth services room, and library staff who are happy to assist you.  It’s the place to come whether you are a student or a senior citizen, searching for a bestseller, consumer information, or term paper help.  
Since the library first opened in 1937,  our dedication to informing and educating the
people of Zion, Beach Park, and Winthrop Harbor has never wavered. Even in lean financial times, we have made an effort  to stock the shelves with up-to-date materials in all subject areas. The consistent expertise of the library staff has helped customers get even more from their trips to the library.
          What has changed over time is how information is delivered. When the Zion Public Library opened on March 3, 1937, its stock was print:  books, newspapers, and magazines. In the 1960’s the Zion Memorial Public Library added records, art prints, and microfilm.  In 1975 the Zion-Benton Public Library added Beach Park and Winthrop Harbor to the service area. The bookmobile took the library to neighborhoods and school yards.  Movies went from film to VHS to DVD.  Music and spoken books  went from LPs to cassettes to CDs, MP3s and, now, to digital downloads.  Reference sources, once exclusively print, now encompass extensive online databases.  And books, that mainstay, include hard cover, paperback, and large print, plus downloadable ebooks.  
Customers will always be able to find their favorite books at the library. Technology can never replace an afternoon curled up with a good mystery novel.   Children learn about books and also about interacting with other children when they come to preschool storytime.   Traditional materials provide a depth that is often impossible online, and the Internet supplies an immediacy and timeliness that the publishing process does not allow.
“Can you recommend a book?”   ZBPL’s librarians answer that question every day. But now they’ll also point you towards the most useful and entertaining web sites.    Librarians are experienced at refining searches to get the most accurate information quickly.  Librarians are like telephone operators, making connections for customers. Operators have had to adapt from manually plugging in connections to overseeing networks of fiber optics.   
            Whether you come to the library looking for literary reviews, recipes or business advice, our librarians can help you find what you’re looking for online and on-shelf.    It seems that computer searches only scratch the surface.  A website citation leads to one book and then another…..and the books that ZBPL doesn’t own can be borrowed from other libraries.  
The library does more than provide the tools.  We introduce people to a process of discovery that can change lives.    We give you the power to acquire new skills, knowledge and confidence.   We provide public-access computers and a high speed connection.    With free equipment and free instruction, we level the technological playing field. This translates into greater opportunities
for our workforce and our local businesses. 
The world of the future will hold more changes, more technological innovations and more revolutions in thought.   How can you keep up with all this progress? The same way you always have – at the Zion-Benton Public Library.  

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