Saturday, April 21, 2007


I realize that this is the end of National Library Week instead of the beginning, but I couldn't let the week pass away completely without passing on the Proclamation that State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster gave in support of this national observance.
In our interconnected, digital world, libraries are serving an ever more critical role in preserving and disseminating information.
Wisconsin citizens conducted 18.8 million searches using BadgerLink the state's on-line library during 2006. BadgerLink provides access to articles from thousands of newspapers and periodicals, image files, and other reference materials and websites, including children's and adult literature, business, medical and education sources, and many other specialized resources not available through regular internet search engines.
While BadgerLink opens many new doors to information, the computer systems that support interlibrary loans make Wisconsin libraries national leaders in cooperative resource sharing. Interlibrary loan maximizes citizens' opportunities to borrow items from libraries anywhere in the state and avoids unnecessary duplicate purchases. Wisconsin residents borrowed 6.3 million items in 2006 through interlibrary loan, an increase of about 1 million items from 2005.
A relatively new project that further explores the power of technology is the digitization of library materials. A joint agency project in 2001, created the Great Lakes Maritime History site, which is now part of the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections. With that success and federal funding coordinated through the Department of Public Instructiion, a number of public libraries have created electronic resources from local history materials, including early city directories and maps, photographs, and local history books. Digitization allows libraries to preserve the original materials, which are often fragile and only available locally, while making the information available to a much wider audience.
Taking digital dissemination even further, Wisconsin libraries recently formed a consortium to encourage more libraries to digitize collections. Wisconsin Heritage Online, provides a web-based gateway to digital collections of Wisconsin's history, heritage, culture, and people. Teachers, students, genealogists, history buffs, and others who value our state and its cultural heritage will find an expanding resource through the Wisconsin Heritage Online project.
Every public library provides public Internet connections for those who do not otherwise have access. In our school libraries, children learn to evaluate and used digital resources properly. So, whether it is bricks and mortar or online, each library visit opens doors to information that supports Wisconsin citizens in their everyday lives. From improving literacy or recreational reading to starting a new business or planning for retirement, Wisconsin libraries contribute to the economic vitality of their local communities.
During Natiional Library Week, let's celebrate the important contributions libraries make to our democratic society and quality of life. Please visit your local library to take advantage of the wonderful resources available and thank your librarian and library workers for making information and education accessible to all."
I'm sorry that I was out enjoying the much anticipated final arrival of Spring in Wisconsin and didn't get this to you earlier in the week. But Ms Burmaster's message is pertinent and timely no matter when you read it.



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