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Yuma County libraries stay relevant in digital age
Even in the digital age with information available online, libraries made of bricks and mortar still have a future, says the director of the Yuma County Library District.
"Libraries are alive and well in the 21st century because so many people are still eager to get in and use these facilities," said Director Susan Evans.
The reason is that libraries, like those in Yuma County, are incorporating new technology that makes information more readily accessible, she said.
While the newly opened two-story Yuma Main Library at 2951 S. 21st Drive has set aside room for books, it also has CDs, DVDs, audiocassettes and other related equipment for analog and digitized content that patrons can use when they visit.
The library also collects video DV tapes and audiovisual equipment, so visitors don't have to buy and take home every tape they want to use.
Audiobooks are available for those with no time or interest in reading a book themselves, but who want to hear someone else tell them a story. E-books are also becoming more common as people buy e-book technology.
In addition, the district's library branches around the county offer wireless Internet access, said Carla Peterson, the district's assistant director.
But, she added, "while the Internet has made finding information more convenient, it is harder to read a full-length book online. You can find Web retailers like Amazon.com selling actual paperback or hardcover books, or e-books as well for users of its Kindle e-readers. Or even finding a PDF of one section of a book online to preview is sometimes possible."
"But hardly ever will the entire contents of a book be accessible online for reading without first paying and often downloading it, which is why visiting libraries for many people is still fun and convenient," Peterson said.
One sign of libraries' continuing relevance, Evans said, was last month's grand opening of the Yuma library, one of new libraries funded by a $53.7 million bond issue approved by voters in 2005. Thousands packed the library for the event.
The grand opening came several days after renowned lecturer Stephen Abrams gave a speech titled, "The Heart of Libraries: Innovation."
Among other things, he touched on how libraries can take advantage of the World Wide Web by providing access to new technologies.