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Anne Shepherd, library director, said libraries have quickly become sources of e-government – governmental services that now deal with business online whereas before there was an office people would visit to do business.
This first started with early voting, Shepherd said, which was the first time the library was particularly impacted by large amounts of people coming for nontraditional library services. Then the economy changed.
“In the past, what we saw was people coming in to read their e-mail, print boarding passes, kind of fun or recreational uses of the computers,” Shepherd said. “And now, starting about three years ago, we saw a big change, where people are coming in desperate. Sometimes in tears. ‘I have to apply, I don’t have a job, I want to apply, I don’t know how to use a computer.’ And at first we were kind of shocked, like how could these agencies have done this to these people, but then we decided we couldn’t do anything about that. Instead, what we’ll do is learn how to help these people.”