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Article: Madison Public Libraries Embrace Technology to Attract Users

77 Square, off shoot of The Capital Times, has a great article on how the public libraries in Madison have embraced technology to attract users and stay relevant in the digital age.

Libraries were once feared to be headed for obsolescence as the digital age made massive amounts of information accessible from a home computer. But now, in addition to helping patrons find the latest Michael Chabon novel, libraries have adapted -- and prospered -- by offering perks like free wireless access, gaming, computer skills classes and assistance in navigating the flood of resources on the Internet....

"The trend is increasing library use," said Loriene Roy, president of the American Library Association. "Looking for a book to read is still the top reason why people use libraries. But it's also the new services that are providing a lot of the excitement that we're seeing."...

For many, it's all about the Internet, which has turned out to be a boon for libraries. While most people surf online at home, others don't have Internet access or have clunky dial-up access. Serving that population is part of a library's critical public mission, library officials said. Even those with broadband at home visit libraries for access to databases that individuals either can't get, or would have to pay for to access from home.