Can local libraries withstand technology?

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The increase in new technology has more people logging on instead of hitting the books.

"You can renew online, you can request items and have them sent to anyone of the Harrison County Libraries. It really opens up the entire system to individuals," says Lori Hawkins.

Hawkins runs the Orange Grove Library. She says lately the library is seeing an increase in traffic both inhouse and online. But she's not worried about a technology takeover.

"There's just nothing like cracking open a good book, sitting back in your chair and propping your feet up," Hawkins said.

Celia Barrett agrees.

"Some of the focus is gaining in computers but the book is always going to be there," Barrett said.

Barrett was the first librarian at the 30 year old building. She remembers the introduction of the World Wide Web.

"It brought in a different clientele for us and of course it's made our life easier as far as circulation goes and as far as finding out information for our patrons," said Barrett.

The emergence of an online card catalog system and other online features, has people taking a more do-it-yourself attitude when it comes to the library.

However, officials say there will always be a need for a good old fashioned library.

"There's a lot of junk on the internet so you will always need somebody somebody sophisticated enough to interpret it and arrange it. That's where the librarian comes in," says Robert Lipscomb, the Harrison County library director.

He says what may change, are the size of libraries. The internet may drive local governments to build smaller. But they are confident that the need for the library building will ultimately withstand new technology.