Faith Brautigam

Do you know any analytical thinkers? One of my favorite descriptions of people who think this way is we can see the glass as half empty and half full at the same time. It makes me smile because it’s the perfect description of me. I see a product, solution or plan as both better and worse than, and that is especially true of technology.

Talking via webcam won’t ever replace holding a grandchild on your lap. Technology, however, is absolutely better than no technology. A long phone conversation with a faraway friend or family member is a whole lot better than not talking to them at all, and a video chat is better still. Amazing-but-not-perfect applies to all sorts of trade-offs and can be as true when you use Kokomo-Howard County Public Library’s digital tools as it is elsewhere in life.

Let’s start with wanting to learn a new skill. You may miss the days when your grandma, grandpa or a neighbor worked alongside you to teach you the ropes. While not that homey, there are advantages to having massive amounts of vetted data to help you. For example, logging into Chilton Library through our website will tell you exactly how to change a part on the make and model of the car you drive. The same scenario is true of the other sources you can use free with your Kokomo-Howard County Public Library card, whether it is reading a great article on how to use polymer clay from the Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center or dipping your toe into Quickbooks through the video tutorials on Universal Class. Stepping into another culture and only getting lunch when you figure out how to ask for it might be the perfect way to learn another language, but your library’s two free-to-you online language-learning tools offer terrific opportunities.

You might regret you never asked your grandparents more questions. While the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library can’t take you back in time, did you know we offer Ancestry Library Edition, the bells-and-whistles version of the product advertised on TV? If you have ancestors who served in the military, also check out our online History and Genealogy Archives; if you have African-American ancestry, our African American Heritage database will be perfect for you.

If you are a reader, and we sincerely hope you are, technology can help you find your next great read. We post best-seller lists on you library’s indoor digital signage and create all sorts of themed book lists for our website. If you look up a specific title in our catalog, be sure to look at the right-hand side of the screen, where a product called Novelist will suggest similar titles you might enjoy. You might have anticipated that automated reading recommendations cannot compare to a cozy chat with a friend who enjoys the same sorts of books you do. Don’t fall for that thought, though. This whole better/worse structure has been, to some extent, a trick. The Kokomo-Howard County Public Library not only has technology geared toward recommending your next read, but we have staff who would love to work with you, in person, to do that same thing — only better.

The imperfect scenarios above were “worse than” largely due to a lack of human interaction; at the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library, even in those not-quite-perfect situations we have employees who are here to help you. We can work beside you to figure out those online tools or point you in the right direction as you track down your great-great-grandfather. One more thing: As soon as we find a way to teleport you to your grandkids, we will be sure to let you know.

Faith Brautigam is director of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library. Contact her at fbrautigam@khcpl.org

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