Libraries are the heart of a community, and if that heart is to continue beating, long-term efforts are needed to help libraries keep pace with the deluge of information spawned by new technology and the growing ethnic and cultural diversity of the American public.
Linda F. Crismond, executive director of the American Library Association, told 80 delegates to the Utah Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Thursday night that libraries also play a key role in preserving the past while pointing out paths for the future."Libraries are integral to life and learning - they are the universities of the people," Crismond said. "They are the keepers of dreams."
Crismond challenged the delegates to the Utah conference to use their time wisely during the three-day event as they identify problems and challenges facing libraries and other information services and prepare recommendations that will be taken to the upcoming White House conference later this year. Those attending the governor's conference will select delegates to carry Utah recommendations to the national event.
The current conference is a follow-up to the first conference held 10 years ago. Many credit that conference with preparing an agenda that was effective in helping libraries overcome serious problems during the 1980s. They hope this conference will set a similar stage for the decade of the '90s.
"The constant bombardment of information we have now has put many people in a confused state. It has created what I call an information anxiety," Crismond said. "It is critical that people learn to make informed choices. Reading and writing is not enough. People need to know where to find information and how to find the right information.
"This is an exciting and challenging time. Technology is challenging us to do things faster and faster. We have had more information developed in the past three years than in the previous 5,000 years," Crismond added.
She cited the recent Persian Gulf conflict as an example. "More information was released in the first 24 hours of the Persian Gulf war than was made available throughout the entire Civil War."
Crismond challenged the Utah conferees to:
- Think broadly and creatively about needed library resources.
- Look for long-term solutions - solutions for the coming decade.
- Be realistic concerning available resources while not being daunted by the hurdles they encounter.
- Strengthen existing values concerning library and information services.
- Build coalitions to meet the growing needs and overcome challenges facing libraries.
- Stay involved and find new ways for using libraries, including more volunteers serving as library trustees and as library friends.
- Build on the knowledge gained at the conference.