At Sunrise Packaging, and the rest of Minnesota, we are experiencing record low temperatures in almost 20 years! And it is days like today when people are stuck inside that they take an extra special look at their DVD collections to pass the time. Sure, Netflix and other sources are great entertainers, but your own DVD, even VHS collection comes with a dose of nostalgia. After all, these are the movies and tv series that were chosen for you or by you. Looking through my collection, I noticed that in the variety of DVDs, the cases vary as much as the disc. All injection molded cases, I have multi disc cases with flip trays, slim cases in black and clear, and of course single disc black cases.
Speculation of the demise of public libraries has been a talker over the last handful of years. With everything going digital (music, movies, books) it was at least clear that if libraries were going to make it through this transitional period, they would have to be willing to change with the times. The widespread opinion by many was that libraries wouldn’t survive long term but would start to see a decline in overall patronage. If that is the case, we’re not seeing evidence of this yet.
Take Wethersfield Library in Connecticut for example. According to their library director, overall patronage last year increased. More than 193,000 people visited the library in 2010- an average of 550 visitors each day. That’s a 4.5% increase from the previous year. Quite an astonishing number considering what libraries are apparently up against. In addition to their physical visits to the library, 180,500 people visited the library’s website.
In the past year, Wethersfield Library also had 54,800 questions to reference staff (18% increase from the previous year) and borrowed 363,900 items from the library to patrons. 17,00 people attended programs offered by the library, ranging from job-hunting support groups to children’s reading events to movie screenings.
The increased use is similar to increased patronage in other libraries nationwide. The American Library Association has noted that since the recession began, libraries across the country have seen increased use by people who have fallen on hard times or who are seeking jobs and visit libraries to use the free computer to look for work and apply online.
Seemingly, the recession has had a big hand in these nationwide increases for libraries. For example, people have been dropping magazine subscriptions to save money while going to their local library to borrow magazines. While the economy might be a temporary explanation for these increases, it will be very interesting to see where the state of the public library is in another 5-10 years, assuming we climb out of the recession.
McPherson Public Library in Kansas is offering summer reading programs for all ages. The programs provide a great opportunity for children and teens to keep their reading skills sharp over summer vacation while indulging in some fun activities. Programs are offered for three different age groups.
The kid’s program called “Make a Splash–READ!” lets them explore the world of water through stories, songs, games, and other activities. They can also earn prizes for completing a summer reading board. All summer long there will be special music performers, magicians, snacks, lunch, puppet shows, etc. What a great opportunity to put children into a fun environment where reading and learning is encouraged.
Teens can sign up for a program called “Make Waves @ Your Library” where they can come to the library all summer to read and take part in special events. They will also be able to earn prizes for reading.
“Dive into Reading” is the adult summer reading program. Adult readers can explore new genres, give book reviews, sign up for book suggestions, join the library’s online book discussion group and receive prizes for each level of participation.
The McPherson Public Library is sponsoring a fun festival for the “Summer Reading Kick-Off on Thursday, June 3rd from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the library. All ages are invited to help us kick off the Summer Reading Program “Make a Splash . . . READ!”. The library will have free games, art activities, balloon animals, and temporary tatoos. Children will also have a chance to sign up for the Summer Reading Program during this event.
McPherson Public Library
The question is not if libraries will exist throughout the digital age, it’s how will they re-invent themselves.
Libraries cannot survive as community-funded hubs for thousands of books that are never checked out by its patrons. Moreover, expensive reference materials that libraries invest tons of dollars on are now free online and conveniently available for anyone to peruse. Many libraries claim that their number one thing that they deliver to its customers are free DVD rentals…not a good long-term strategy to build upon.
Now that people are going online for the same information provided by their local libraries, it’s time to shake things up. There are a few examples of libraries that are creatively positioning themselves into the digital age as an attempt to salvage their sense of community.
Lets look at the City of Baltimore. The Health Department has recently launched the Virtual Supermarket Project. They chose two neighborhoods in East Baltimore and Washington Village that they dubbed as “Food deserts”, or areas without access to healthy food options. Teaming up the Enoch Pratt Free Library (with branches in both neighborhoods) and Santoni’s Super Market, they now have given local residents easy access to healthier food options at a fair price.
Residents simply go into the library and order their groceries online using the libraries computers. They will receive a printout of their order and pay at the time of ordering. Then they come back the next day to pick up their order with the Baltimore City Health Department subsidizing the delivery charge.
This system benefits the consumer because a wider selection of high quality fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy is made available in the neighborhood than is offered by local corner stores. Pooling purchases for delivery at one convenient site allows consumers to avoid the delivery fee and the requirement that a certain amount of money be spent for the order to be delivered. Also, consumers do not have to navigate public transportation to get to the grocery store, nor will they have to manage hectic schedules and childcare to dedicate time to grocery shopping. From the mayor himself:
“This program will make these neighborhoods stronger and healthier, allowing residents the same access to full-service, competitively priced grocery stores that much of the rest of the city enjoys,” -Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Other examples of libraries who are shaking things up:
The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, in North Carolina, has a multimedia space where kids shoot videos and record music. It also runs a blog dedicated to gaming and hosts video game tournaments regualarily.
The Aarhus Public Library in Aarhus, Denmark, takes things a step further.
The library features an “info column,” where people share digital news stories; an “info galleria” where patrons explore digital maps layered with factoids; a digital floor that lets people immerse themselves in information; and RFID-tagged book phones that kids point at specific books to hear a story.
Virtual Supermarket Project
Social networking Web sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have been growing more and more everyday. They have been expanding so much that not only are teens and 20-somethings using these sites, but they are also affecting the Baby Boomer generation. Since these sites are growing so much in popularity, many libraries are seeing them as a tool to reach out to their patrons.
Michael Stephens, assistant professor of library and information science at Dominican University in River Forest, said “The best libraries will offer multiple venues for discussion. You’ll have multiple channels to find your way to no longer [just] a Web site, but a Web presence.” He also teaches a class called, “Library 2.0 and Social Networking Technologies,” and said that the number one group of people moving to social networks are ages 30 and up.
It is important for libraries to be proactive and stay current with the trends to stay effective, rather than become outdated. These sites allow people to connect with each other, as well as allow libraries to connect with their patrons. Amy Alessio, teen coordinator for the Schaumburg Township District Library said, “The library needs to keep its perception and its service current or we’re going to lose folks.” She uses social networks, such as Twitter, to let people know about the various programs and services that they offer. She found many adults and authors are following her library’s Twitter page and said, “I put something up on Twitter for a program that only has a few spaces left and I almost always get a call from a parent.”
Not only do social networking sites inform patrons about their local library, but they also can bring libraries together to share ideas. They can see what other libraries are doing and if that is something they could or want to start. It is also a tool for passing along information about budget cuts and what is going on in the industry. The North Suburban Library System said that they use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with its member libraries and professionals within the industry.
For libraries to continue to effectively reach out to their patrons, they need to stay current with the times by utilizing social networking sites and creating a Web presence. Peggy Carlson, assistant director of the Geneva Public Library, said, “We think it’s the way of the future, and we’re going to be integrating it more and more into our service.”
Barnes & Noble announced that the have opened the world’s largest eBookstore. The eBookstore has over 700,000 titles and they anticipate having over 1,000,000 titles by 2010.
Electronic book readers do not need to purchase a separate device to read the ebooks, Barnes & Noble offers a free eReader download in teh eBookstore that is compatible with Blackberries, iPhones/iPods, and PCs/Macs.
eBooks are a great resource for travel since readers do not need to carry separate books.
The next wave in audiobook technology that libraries are offering are on a small player called a “playaway”. This format developed by leading audiobook publisher, Recorded Books Llc, has an entire book pre-loaded on an mp3 player rather than several CDs.
The tiny players fit in an adult’s palm and are heard through headphones or speakers attached to the player. They are especially popular with commuters as they are very portable and there is no changing discs.
Readers like the quality and ease of use, as well as the ability to move back and forth between chapters and within chapters, The device also allows readers to alter the speed of the narrator’s voice and has an automatic bookmark feature that “remembers” where the listener left off.
The players are easier to store since there’s only one unit. Using foam to cradle the players in their storage cases, help to keep them free from damage.
There are over 180 titles in many genres from Stephen Hawkings “A Brief History of Time” to Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic.
Check out your neighborhood library to see this new way to experience reading.
If you’re like me, you love to read books, but can’t ever seem to find the time to do it. That is why audiobooks are so handy and have growing popularity. You can listen to them while driving, walking, or wherever you take your CD player or mp3 player/iPod.
But the costs add up for audiobooks, especially if you go through a lot of them quickly. For one title alone, it can cost around $15-25 in the iTunes store. This is where Booksfree comes in. They offer a rental service that is much like what Netflix does with DVDs. For a monthly service fee, you can continually rent audiobooks from a huge selection without having to worry about late fees. And you don’t have to pay extra for shipping, each audiobook you receive in the mail comes with a prepaid envelope for you to send it back in.
The amount of your monthly service fee will depend on the membership plan that you sign up for. Prices are higher if you choose to be able to rent more than one audiobook at a time, or if you prefer the CD membership over the mp3-CD membership. But you can get a plan for as little as $13.49/month. If you typically buy at least one audiobook each month, you would be saving money with this membership.
This rental service is both good and bad for authors and publishers. They get paid for the number of books sold, not by how many times they are rented. But this is not any different than a library offering titles, and it helps them gain exposure for more possible customers in the future. A rental service is great is you plan to go through a lot of audiobooks, but we hope that they are using extremely durable cases if they are continually being rented and sent back and forth in the mail. And if you like to keep your wide collection of audiobooks on display and available at all times, you may just want to stick with buying audiobooks and being able to keep them as your own.
Most libraries offer a wide collection of electronic media in addition to digital downloads. Collections usually include: audiobooks on disc, movies and tv shows on DVD and music on CDs. In addition, some libraries also offer the audiobooks on pre-recorded players like Recorded Books’ Playaway and via online digital downloads.
A 74 foot, 18 wheeled, high tech bookmobile could be coming to your local library soon. Digital book publisher OverDrive, Inc. has tricked out the tractor-trailer to be the next generation bookmobile.
Bookmobiles are nothing new. They have been serving communities for decades bringing books to those who can’t get to the library. OverDrive’s Digital Bookmobile is bringing digital books and audiobooks to North America on a coast to coast tour. (Check out the calendar here.)
According to www.digitalbookmobile.com, the tour’s objective is to deliver an engaging download experience where library users can immerse themselves in an interactive learning environment and raise awareness of a public library’s download service of digital audiobooks, eBooks, music, and video.
The vehicle is equipped with broadband Internet-connected PCs, high-definition monitors, premium sound systems, and a variety of portable media players. Interactive computer stations give visitors an opportunity to search the digital media collection, use supported mobile devices, and sample eBooks, audiobooks, music, and video from the library.
The Digital Bookmobile is hosted by individual public libraries in support of their download services and is operated by OverDrive, Inc. To see if your public library offers download books and more, visit the Digital Media Locator.
Libraries are becoming a shelter and hangout place for more people than just students and book-lovers. You see people carrying backpacks overflowing with all of their possessions. Others are washing up in the bathroom. Some city libraries are starting to seem like a day homeless shelter.
Especially in this economy, more and more people are becoming homeless and don’t know where to turn. They seek shelter at the library in the day for warmth in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer. So is this a problem or an opportunity?
Some people are turned-off when they see homeless people in dirty clothes at the library. Different people react differently. Some are scared. Some are annoyed. Some are compassionate. Instead of turning away, we should be glad they are looking to the library for help. With the resources available, they can learn many things through reading, get help writing a resume, and set-up an e-mail account. These are just a few things that could help them get on track to finding a job. But there are guidelines that have to be followed for health and safety concerns. Libraries will not allow themselves to turn into homeless shelters. They should be a place where everyone can learn and use the resources available, not a place to goof around or sleep. As long as the rules are being followed, everyone should have the opportunity.
With the economy the way it is, libraries are busier than ever. People, whether homeless or not, are turning to the libraries free resources for learning and entertainment. And with the growing number of users and higher circulation rate, a larger selection is needed, as well as durable, replacement packaging that will last.