WIESBADEN, Germany -What is the library of the future?
That’s what Col. David Mayfield wanted to know during a visit to the Wiesbaden Library shortly after taking command of U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, according to Wiesbaden Library Director Lane DeLaPena.
“Those are the kinds of things we think about in Library Science;” said the Wiesbaden librarian, “we need to start thinking about what the future looks like … how people think about and access information.
“So much has changed in the last five-to-10 years,” said DeLaPena, adding that the library should be a gateway to technology. “We’ve analysed our collection, ordered new materials on technology, created research and citation guides, and our staff has begun training in coding.”
The idea is to make finding data, citations and other materials easier for patrons – whether for academic purposes, recreational pursuits or simply to help with local projects or daily life, she said.
“We’re working to make that easier for patrons. We want to help make research less intimidating – to ensure that the library is there to support their academic ambitions,” she said.
“We’re approaching that holistically,” she said, explaining that changing to meet current and future needs is no one size fits all approach.
“We’re training our employees and changing our marketing approach. We want to be a community hub,” she said. “We’re also soliciting leaders and professionals to speak at the library (slated to start in spring of 2023).”
Creating a Database Menu was among the first of the many changes patrons will find at the Wiesbaden Library. “We wanted something that focuses specifically on academic resources broken down by age groups,” DeLaPena explained.
While in the past many patrons relied on library books and other hard-copy materials in their research, “modern-day research doesn’t look like that anymore,” she said. “Databases provide the newest and most accurate information. With databases, researchers can use Boolean operators to find the exact information they need. From there it’s easy to browse abstracts and even do keyword searches within articles. That’s something you can’t do with books, and it’s much more efficient.”
“There’s this perception, especially among people who haven’t gone through recent academic research rigors,” that they can simply resort to online sources such as Wikipedia or materials commonly found on library shelves, DeLaPena said. “It’s very important now that go about conducting your research by finding peer-reviewed resources. It’s basically teaching people how to fish – how to use the resources they should be using in college.”
The library’s new Database Menu, which is broken down by age group, “is also an opportunity to introduce children to databases,” the librarian said, explaining that it will help in their later academic endeavors. “We’re trying to make it more accessible to all ages by making it less overwhelming.”
DeLaPena said another way the library is seeking to reach out to the community is through a biweekly spot on AFN-Wiesbaden and through social media. “Every other week I’m on AFN to talk about the different online resources available. … We’re also working with the regional librarians to rework our collection materials. … Patrons will see a big change by the end of November.”
Another effort to expand resources and training is to feature coding classes starting next spring. “We’ll be there basically as tutors,” DeLaPena said. “We’ll be hosting in-person classes that are self-paced. Sometimes while people are coding, they have these ‘What did I do wrong?’ moments. We’ll be there as another set of eyes to say, ‘Hey, you missed a semicolon here.’ We hope this will make coding easier to learn and also less intimidating.”
For more information about the changing face of the Wiesbaden Library, to discover more about online resources and other library tools, stop by the Wiesbaden Library in Building 1029 on Clay Kaserne or call civ (0611) 143-548-9821. Visit https://mwrlibrary.armybiznet.com for a host of online resources.