Libraries changing to keep up with today’s needs

  • Published
  • By Linda "Dixie" Paronto
  • Base Librarian
This year, we celebrate the 59th year of Malmstrom's Arden G. Hill Memorial Library and the 53rd year of National Library Week.

The library was started in 1952. We are not sure of the exact date, but Ms. Arden G. Hill wrote in her narrative for the FY95 Library Annual Report, that "Building 1152 began as a mess hall in 1952, and was then used as a commissary and combination library and in-flight kitchen. In 1969, the library gained the whole building."

The current library building is named for Ms. Hill who was the librarian at Malmstrom for 20 years, from 1977 to 1997. The building was named for her on its complete remodel in 1998. She was instrumental in getting a building designed only for library use and ready for new technology. Unfortunately, she did not live to see its completion, but we marvel at her foresight for our library building nearly 14 years later. Her vision is especially appreciated when we have to plug in some new device or piece of technology.

Why do we need a library anyway? Almost daily, we hear that libraries are no longer needed because you can "find it on the Internet," or libraries are obsolete because "books will all be electronic one day." We are happy to report that libraries are not going away, or at least not for a long time yet. Libraries are doing what they have done for nearly 5,000 years - change. From the first known libraries in ancient Mesopotamia with clay and papyrus scrolls, to the illustrated medieval manuscripts, to the Gutenberg printing press, to hand-held e-books, libraries have been adapting and changing with technology.

The changes are not killing the library but are actually expanding the library. A library is no longer defined by its walls and what it can hold. Libraries are now 24/7 because of the electronic resources available. Instead of offering a few hundred magazines, the library can subscribe to magazine and journal databases that allow patrons access to tens of thousands of full-text articles with the library's secret codes. The indexes are electronic, fast, and have more comprehensive search capability than using print hardbound indexes that take up acres of shelving. Patrons don't have to wait weeks for an article to be mailed to them once they found information in the index.

We hear a lot of, "but I can find it on the Internet." Yes, but can you actually find "it" on the Internet and is "it" a reliable source? Is the information correct, or is it just someone's opinion? Anyone can post anything on a website.

Did you know that Bing, Google, Yahoo and other search engines only index a small portion of the websites that are added each day? Librarians and other information specialists who work for the search engine companies review and judge what is added to their catalog of websites. Stop by the Malmstrom Library and let our staff help you find "it."

Libraries can also offer other services and materials available via the Internet free or at low cost, such as language learning programs, on-line tutoring, and downloadable e-books and e-audiobooks. The library has many non-print materials available: movies on DVD or VHS; audio books on Playaways, CD or cassettes; and computers.

In a recent study reported in the Seattle PI, a third of Americans use library computers. It was reported "a third of Americans 14 and older - about 77 million people - use public library computers to look for jobs, connect with friends, do their homework, and improve their lives..."

The Arden G. Hill Memorial library provides many print books and materials especially for military families. There is a special collection of books for parents to read to their children on tough life situations. Children still learn best by touching and interacting with the physical book, so the library provides several hands-on programs. Pre-school story time is every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. During the school year (September to May), there is the Reading Patch Club for kids in kindergarten to 7th grade. The summer reading program theme this year, "A Midsummer's Night Read," has knights and dragons and runs June 18 to Aug. 13.

The library, as a physical place, is still going strong. In fact, the public library has received attention as the "new front porch of the general store." Come visit your local "public" library. Get assistance in navigating the Internet. View the unique and wonderful displays on cultural heritages. Check out a movie on DVD, a graphic novel, a music CD, learn a new language, or maybe even check out a book.

Here are just some of the Internet resources the library has to offer:

EBSCO Host Academic Research for magazines, journals and newspapers and EBSCO's Do-It-Yourself Reference Centers for Auto Repair, Small Engine Repair, Home Improvement Projects, and the Hobby and Crafts Center. All EBSCO's databases are available through the Malmstrom Library or Military One Source.

NetLibrary for e-books and e-audiobooks. Sign up for an account at the Malmstrom Library, Military One Source or on the AF Portal.

Overdrive is an electronic loaning library for audio book and e-books at Many of the CSAF Reading List books are available on Overdrive. Stop by the library for the password.

Peterson's DoD/MWR Education & Career Center for help writing a resume on its Civilian Career Center or studying for a CLEP. To take a practice test or use many of the other learning resources, stop by the Education Office or the Malmstrom Library for instructions and the password.

TumbleBooks for on-line read-along picture books FREE through Military One Source. for online tutoring 24/7 homework help for kindergarten to college students and adult learners. Active duty and their families can sign up at and select Air Force.

The library has the full list of more than 60 databases available free to Air Force personnel and their families. Stop by for the full list, instructions and passwords.

The library staff is available for one-on-one or small group instruction on computers, databases and other electronic formats. To schedule a topic and time, call 731-4638.