By JEANNE STARMACK
Thirty-four years have passed since Sherry Ault began working at the Hubbard Library.
“But it seems like a few days — I’ve loved every minute of it,” said Ault, the library’s director.
Like coming to the end of a good book, though, Ault is concluding her career with her retirement in January.
She is leaving her job — but, she says, she’ll never leave the library.
She doesn’t have to, because technology has changed it so much that she can take it with her. She has her tablet to access its Web page, and her e-reader is stocked with books to take on those camping trips she’s planning.
The Internet, Ault said, has not made libraries obsolete. Rather, it has given them a new vitality. And they remain an important part of every community, she said.
“People say, ‘I can just get on the Internet and find out what I need to know,’” she said. “That is so untrue,” she said, pointing out that the information from the library is carefully vetted and accurate.
“Quality research has a price, and libraries pay that price,” she said.
Residents, who support libraries with taxes, have access to unlimited information, she said, and librarians know where to get it.
“Trying to get a bit of information off the Internet is like trying to get a sip off a firehose,” she said.
The library’s website offers so many features that people don’t have to go to the building, she pointed out.
“Go to ‘know it now,’ and 24-7, a librarian will chat with you and get your information,” she said.
“We have job preparation and resume tools,” she said. Learning Express offers materials for the GED, civil-service tests, law enforcement, firefighter and CDL tests, she added.
There also is help available in preparing for the ACT, SAT and AP tests.
Databases have information on everything from antiques to car repairs.
The website offers a sign-up for a library card, and members can access e-books, audiobooks and full issues of magazines. Virtual cardholders can also download free, legal mp3 music, she said.
The Hubbard Library is part of Clevenet, a consortium of 44 libraries that provides well over 10 million items.
“No paying somebody for a digital book — the library has it free,” she said.
Even though the online services offer unprecedented access to information, they have not eliminated the need for bricks and mortar, Ault believes.
People can go to the library for tutoring on how to use a computer, smartphone or tablet.
Its print-management system allows printing from an iPad or computer, and people can fax, scan and email from its copier machines.
The library has e-readers for borrowing, and they are already loaded with books.
It even has an array of shaped cake pans available for special occasions.
Library buildings are becoming more like community centers, with programs for families and children and meeting space for groups, she said.
There are homebound services as well for older people who can’t get out.
Libraries and librarians have never been more important, Ault said.
“When we joined Clevenet, our circulation went up 50 percent,” she said. “I’m not calling that obsolete. I’m calling that vital.”