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Living in San Carlos August 28, 2015

The San Carlos Library.

by Chuck Gillooley

Old School, New Media.

Technology has made the world we live much smaller and faster, and has almost created an expectation of “instant gratification” for many things we now do — especially among the younger generations who are growing up with technology.

Want a song or an audio book? That’s only a few clicks away on iTunes. Need a last minute shopping run?  Google Express is happy to tackle that for you on the very same day — or if you can wait two whole days (an eternity), Amazon Prime will ship it to your door — for free. And any discussion about instant technological gratification would be remiss without the mention of Uber, which has completely changed how we get from one place to another.

But long before the advent of smart phones and apps for the click-and-ship generation, the pioneer of what we know today as “media-sharing” has been sitting right in our back yard: The library.

Surely the author has hit his head by walking straight into a wall while reading his iPhone. The library? That place with dusty old books and the cranky librarian? How is that germane to a discussion about technology?

The “New” Library

I recently re-discovered the San Mateo County Library system — yes, the very same system that I used growing up to check out old books — and was pleasantly surprised at how much things have changed, AND how even an institution like the library has embraced technology.

First of all, the library is not just about books anymore. There are shelves of music CD’s, DVD movies, and even audio books just waiting to be checked out. I was thrilled to find some older and more obscure music CD’s that I didn’t even know existed (Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall – 1972…simply phenomenal.)  Their movie selection is excellent too, with recent feature movies, and even popular TV series.

But what ties it all together is that the San Mateo County Library system now has an iPhone app that allows you to search the entire county-wide system to find what you’re looking for, and then ship it for free to the nearest library. You simply find what you’re looking for, click which library to send it to, and then they’ll send you an email when it’s ready to pick up.

The app is not flashy, but it certainly very capable. I haven’t encountered a single problem with it yet, and I have used it many times. You can access the app on the iTunes store for free by clicking here: San Mateo County Library App.

The Best Price.

So why is all of this worth mentioning?  It’s certainly not the technology. You can instantly download your music from iTunes, or buy your books from Amazon. No, it’s because the library is free, which just so happens to be my favorite price. And it’s a resource right in your back yard.  So “re-discover” the new library system. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

The San Carlos library is located right next to City Hall at 610 Elm Street in downtown San Carlos.
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