Many changes in library technology have occurred since the GPL’s Main Library opened in 1964. In the 1980s and ‘90s, the GPL adapted to the advent of microcomputers.
The GPL became increasingly automated. An online library catalog essentially replaced the old multi-drawer library card catalog, bibliographic databases were acquired, and desktop PCs (personal computers) were made accessible to the public. In 1998, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the GPL a Gates Library Foundation Opportunity Grant of $48,900.
The next year, the GPL added the position of Student Computer Monitor. The primary duty of the Monitor is to assist library patrons with the use of computer technology (the Internet and all application software installed on the GPL’s public computers). There are Student Computer Monitors at all GPL facilities.
That same year the Student Computer Monitor was introduced, 1999, a fifteen-station computer lab at the Du Bois Branch Library opened to the public. Also in 1999, internet service became available at all branches of the GPL.
In 2001, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the GPL a second grant and new databases were added to the GPL’s Web site. A new online library catalog and circulation system, SIRSI, now allows patrons to access the GPL’s catalog from home through the GPL’s website.
DVDs were introduced at the Main Library in 2001 and eventually began to circulate district-wide. On August 11, 2003 the Brunswick Branch Library opened in the Brunswick neighborhood.
By 2006, the rental VHS tape collection of movies was entirely replaced with one in the DVD format. In September of 2006, WiFi (wireless Internet access) became available to the public at the Main Library with wireless access later made available at the Brunswick Branch, Du Bois Branch, Kennedy Branch, and Woodson Branch.
In 2007, the GPL added the latest in audio- book technology, known as the Playaway. Developed by Findaway World, LLC in Solon, Ohio, the Playaway is a small, solid-state pre-loaded player that plays digital content (audio-books or music). The digital content cannot be changed or altered by the user.
In that decade, the first of the 21st Century (and 3rd Millennium), the reassessment of Indiana’s property taxes and the possibility of Lake County’s seven independent public library systems consolidating into one county district became concerns. In 2008, the GPL celebrated the centennial anniversary of its foundation.