Dennis Carlisle is a librarian at the Rainier Beach branch of the Seattle Public Library, and he wanted to talk with me about the digital divide, which has pushed his job onto a different track.
Columnist Jerry Large has written recently about libraries adapting to technological change, providing books for e-readers for one thing.
But Carlisle said he's just as much affected by the other end of the tech spectrum. He got a master's in library science 26 years ago, and colleges shortly after dropped library and started calling it information science.
"The first half of my career, I was deep into reference." Then people stopped calling and stopping by so much. They migrated to Web browsers. Libraries replaced shelves of phone books, atlases and maps with banks of computers.
Another group of people came to the library, people who didn't own computers, or who couldn't afford high-speed Internet access, people who often don't know the first thing about using one of the machines.
Librarians became computer coaches, at least at some branches. Carlisle first encountered that at the High Point branch, and now at Rainier Beach.
"You would think many who need help are in their 60s, 70s or 80s," Carlisle said, "but that's not necessarily the case." He sees mostly people in their 20s to 40s struggling with computers. -- Read More