Save our Libraries

This is the text of my introduction to the SINTO course "Sources of health and wellbeing information for the public" which is running on Friday.

Welcome to this SINTO training event on sources of health and wellbeing information. As you may know, tomorrow is Save Our Libraries day when people all over the country will be showing their support for public libraries. Now I probably shouldn't have said that. It's possible now that someone from Sheffield City Council will turn up and tell us we can't hold this event because it is too political!

The reason I mention it is that there is a big debate going on about the value and importance of libraries - and one argument you often hear is "Well we don't need libraries any more because it's all on the Internet."

Now this course is going to look at the resources that are available on the internet among other things but even if "it is all on the Internet" (and we know that is not the case), that does not mean that libraries and librarians are obsolete.

I decided to do a search on Google yesterday for Alzheimer (it had been a bad day). I typed it in and Google came up with 20 million hits! Now isn't that marvellous! What more could I possibly want? Being experienced in this sort of thing I knew that in that list would be something like 100 hits that would be exactly what I wanted. Up-to-date, accurate, authoritative and designed to meet my exact requirements. Unfortunately that leaves 1 million, nine hundred and ninety thousand, and nine hundred hits that are not relevant - and the problem of sorting out which are which.

That is why we need libraries and that is why you are here today.