In the face of computer technology rushing forward faster than lighting speed, it is refreshing to know that reports of the demise of public libraries are extremely exaggerated.
If you want proof of that, just head out to any library facility, including the one in downtown Manteca on West Center Street between Poplar and Sycamore streets. It’s still a busy place – in a quiet way, of course. But not in the extremely quiet way of early days when sounds of shhh! From a strict librarian would punctuate a phalanx of silence suddenly punctured by an audible conversation or a verbal exchange loud enough to disturb library patrons quietly reading or doing their research nearby.
A few visible changes have occurred through the years which may be more glaring to someone who has not stepped inside for the last five years, even 10 years or so.
For one thing, one would notice the diminished number of print publications on the rack located on the wall to your left if you’re coming in from Center Street. That could be due to the fact a number of printed reading materials including magazines and newspapers have, in the past decade, ceased to exist for economic reasons. Either they ceased publications entirely, or they have given up their ink ghost to get a second chance at life in cyberspace, like Newsweek magazine – which later was resurrected in print form.
But the most notable physical transformation that has taken place inside the library is the overt visibility, almost intrusive presence, of modern technology’s omniscient presence – the computer. Right next to the magazine and newspaper racks is a bank of computers that are nearly always occupied by patrons of every age and gender – from students to mature adults.
There are even computers to facilitate signing up for a library card, and for checking out books and other materials
But as high tech as the public library has become, there are a couple of devices that evokes nostalgia. They are a pair of electric typewriters with a wide carriage that can accommodate the width of a legal paper. They are not there merely for decoration, said the library staff member we queried. Oh, yes, there are people who come in and use them to fill out forms, for example, she said smiling. No passwords required to engage the typewriters. You don’t have to sign a form to use them either. And you don’t need to show a library card before you start pounding the keys.
Whether modern computer technology will ever be the death knell for public libraries as we know it now is arguable. There is no shortage of the debate on that subject – it will go on ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
But while all that discussion and debate is going on, here’s something the Manteca Library is offering to fuel all that exchange of opinions and theories, and to arm its patrons so they can join in the fun online. There are computer classes being offered free of charge at the library, taught by library staff. They are designed for those who are interested in learning basic computer skills, and to become familiar with computer terminologies and applications. There are classes that will teach tech newbies how to do research online, how to navigate the Internet, how to user Google, download eBooks and eAudiobooks from OverDrive and Axis 360, and to learn how to use Microsoft Word program (the 2010 version), and why it’s important to know the year of a software version in the first place!
All of the following computer classes will be held at the Manteca Library, which is a branch of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library System. All the classes are on Tuesdays.
• Basic computer skills – Nov. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.
• Beginning Internet – Nov. 4 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
• Basic computer skills – Nov. 18 from 1 to 3 p.m.
• Google searching – Nov. 18 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
• Beginning Microsoft Word (2010 version) – Nov. 25 from 1 to 3 p.m.
• Downloading eBooks & eAudiobooks from OverDrive and Axis 360 – Nov. 25 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
If you have any further questions to ask about the above classes, drop by the library in downtown Manteca or call 1.866.805.7323.