I’ve heard this a million times and you probably have to, “Aren’t libraries going to be obsolete now that we have Google?”
Librarians aren’t a just a human version of a search engine. If anything, Google is an ocean, an ocean of information, and librarians are the navigators. So librarians are like Columbus and Magellan, only they know where they’re going and don’t get knocked off part of the way there.
There are many resources libraries provide that go beyond what a page rank search engine can spit out.
First, there’s basic reference. For something like that, I like the Internet Public Library. Its got a massive amount of resources, including a pathway in the upper right hand corner to chat online with a librarian.
Libraries are great places to get resources for kids. To find books for kids, I love the functionality and design of the International Children’s Digital Library. You can browse their vast collection of books by protagonist type (mythical, animal, kid, etc.), subject, age, language, and even cover color.
I stopped by my public library today and was reminded of something else libraries provide: classes! I noticed a poster at the front desk advertising free computer classes for older users. Those classes focus more on basics, but for those that would like to learn some more complex coding and programming languages, W3Schools is a great resource. I used it to learn HTML, SQL and PhP.
This is probably beyond a library class, but it’s such a great resource, I wanted to include it anyway. For learning a foreign language, Live Mocha is an online language community where you communicate with users all over the world and help each other learn. I’ve never used this site myself, but once heard about it and suggested it to someone I knew who was learning Russian. When I saw him a few months later, he was raving about it. Way cheaper than Rosetta Stone.
Finally, lets not forget what libraries are known for: books! Any librarian worth their salt knows about WorldCat, the largest library catalog. Check the catalog for DVDs and audiobooks. The library near me, for example, has a DVD collection that rivals most video rental stores that have not yet been eaten up by Netflix.
For actual books, downloadable for iPad, kindle, and your general ebook reader device, check out Project Gutenberg, the oldest digital library. Most books in this collection are public domain, so you can find a lot of classic texts.
Check out your local library’s website for more resources!