No Wikipedia? Libraries didn't really notice

  • January 18, 2012 - 8:57 PM

As Wikipedia shut down Wednesday in protest of pending Internet anti-piracy bills, did libraries experience an influx of calls seeking information?

Twin Cities librarians said they didn't notice a change -- but, then, they are always busy, they said.

The numbers show that, even in the age of Wikipedia, Google and other online troves of data, the library remains a prime go-to place for information.

In 2010, for instance, the Hennepin County Library system received 865,000 reference questions at libraries and online, officials said. In 2011, the University of Minnesota libraries received 95,558 reference questions.

"We are busy every day receiving reference questions," said Carla Biermaier of Hennepin County Library's Communications and Community Engagement Department. The library takes questions in person or by text, e-mail, phone or instant message.

Joseph Manion, public services manager at Washington County Library, said questions involve topics from history papers to cookbooks for an Italian party, to book suggestions for children struggling with reading. Washington County libraries received 92,650 reference questions in 2011.

Marlene Moulton Janssen, director of Anoka County Library, said that although the system didn't experience an uptick in calls on Wednesday, there were a couple of new questions: Some people asked why they couldn't get access to Wikipedia or why there was a black bar over Google's name on its homepage.


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