[Editor's Note: The following part two in a six-part series on serives provided by the Burke County Public Library system.]
The Burke County Public Library is the place to go to find out about any subject imaginable. The library offers a wide variety of resources both in print and online.
Terra Jacumin, information services librarian, orders adult non-fiction and reference books for the Morganton branch of the library and helps people who visit the library conduct research.
“We’re still very much in the traditional role of helping people find information that they need,” Jacumin said. “We teach literacy skills all the time.”
She also teaches computer classes, which the library offers for free to anyone who wants to learn. The library has several computers specifically for the public’s use. People who have a Burke County Public Library Card may access the computers at any time if they pay an annual $3 technology fee. People without library cards can purchase a guest pass for $1 to use the computer for a single session. Computer sessions are limited to two hours at a time.
“What I’ve found with the computer classes in our community is that we have people who are very comfortable, who want to just polish some skills or learn one or two things they didn’t know before, but we also have, at the extreme end of the spectrum, people who are afraid of computers and are in a world that they don’t really know how to navigate,” Jacumin said. “A lot of what we do is helping people become comfortable with the technology that they thought they would never have to use.”
She provides class attendees with safety guidelines.
“We talk about internet safety and information literacy,” Jacumin said. “Just because someone can put it on the internet, does not mean that it’s legitimate. You have to consider the source and what that source wants you to do.”
In their quest for information, Jacumin often guides library patrons to NC Live, a group of resources curated in one website that have been fully vetted by librarians, searchable by subject matter. The website is paid for by the state of North Carolina. Jacumin said anyone who has a library card in North Carolina can access NC Live from their own computers.
“It’s a few million dollars a year,” said Jim Wilson, library director. “If we tried to buy these resources on our own, and they weren’t shared by the consortium (a coalition of state public and college libraries), we could never afford it. These are commercial databases that you have to pay to have access to. Because they’re not free, the quality of information you get there is superior to what you’re generally going to find just doing a Google search.”
Jacumin and other staff members will provide assistance to anyone having trouble using NC Live on their computers.
“We still have people who come in and need us to sit down for five or 10 minutes and show them how to search and narrow their results,” Jacumin said. “There’s information for health and wellness. There’s teacher resources and information for education. I can go to NC Live and use a resource called ‘Mango’ to learn a foreign language for free.”
Library staff members also go out into the community periodically to show schools and other groups how to use NC Live.
“We are public education on steroids,” Jacumin said. “We offer a safe place to learn. We educate everybody. That’s what we do every day. There is no age restriction – we are womb to tomb.”
To learn more, visit www.bcpls.org or contact 828-764-9260.
Staff writer Tammie Gercken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.