The future library

Here is a cute article from the Columbus Dispatch. It shows a reference transaction of the future.\"Somewhere in the heart of Borneo in the year 2020: \"Hansen, I fear I\'ve been bitten by a snake. Any idea whether it\'s poisonous?\'\' Hansen snaps a digital photo of the snake as it slithers into the bush, then punches a number on his wireless phone. \"Good morning, Worthington Public Library information desk. How can I help you?\'\'

\"Good morning. I\'ve downloaded a digital image of a snake via my cellphone. Any chance you can tell me whether it\'s poisonous?\'\'

\"Certainly, sir. You have encountered a blue coral snake, which is extremely poisonous. If bitten, you should seek immediate medical attention.\"

\"Have a nice day.\'\'

\"Welcome to the public library of the future, the library without walls.\"

\"That\'s not as far-fetched a scenario as it might sound,\'\' said Chuck Gibson, technology coordinator at the Worthington library. \"And it wouldn\'t be the strangest question we\'ve ever been asked.\'\'

\"In the past quarter-century, public libraries have undergone significant changes, transforming themselves into community centers that offer tax advice, ballroom-dancing lessons, small-business services, yoga classes and countless other programs that have little to do with reading. Public libraries lend not only books but also audiobooks, compact discs, videocassettes and DVDs.\"

\"The moves have been popular: Two out of three Americans visited a public library in 1998. And thanks to technology, especially computers, more changes are coming, and they are promising to radically transform libraries.\"

\"In the 1980s, the personal computer made its first appearance in the library,\'\' Gibson said. \"Now it\'s as much a part of library service as the circulation desk.\'\'

\"In the not-too-distant future, patrons won\'t have to leave their homes to visit the library: They\'ll conduct research online and order books online from any public library in the state. As the wireless Internet becomes more established in the next few years, they\'ll access the library from their cars or commuter trains and buses.\"

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