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Miami-Dade County to increase public library budget

by Public Libraries on July 25, 2014

Dollars

Miami-Dade County in Florida is experiencing an all-too-familiar crisis in recent years for librarians: public funding and budget crisis have prevented libraries from operating at full capacity for several years now. Combine that with the slow-creeping epidemic of library abandonment amongst youth, and Miami-Dade’s libraries have definitely been feeling the squeeze.

Luckily, county commissioners just last week voted for a tax increase in the area that would result in an $8 million increase over this year’s budget, and avoid cuts that had the library slated to actually lose millions in funding this year and be reduced to an operational budget of just $30 million next year (down from this year’s current $44 million budget).

For library advocates, this is a mixed victory. While the originally proposed budget would have been catastrophic to the public library operations next year, the new figure still falls short of what the library system calculates it will need to maintain in the coming months and years; they had hoped for $64 million in funding, while the newly approved budget allows the system $52 million instead.

“We are both happy and disappointed,” said John Quick of the Friends of Miami-Dade Public Libraries, summarizing the mixed feelings surrounding the decision. Even so, the organization thanked many of the supporters who not only signed a petition to the county commissioners on the issue of the library budget, but who also showed up at the meeting to speak out in favor of an increased budget for the coming year. These speakers likely helped the county commissioners to see the importance of the community libraries, and ultimately avoid the drastic cuts planned for next year.

From here, the Mayor will have to decide if he will veto or support the plan. Seeing as he had been the one to originally produce the drastic cuts, it may be a tough sell. That said, Mayor Gimenez did make a statement following the vote noting that he would have to carefully consider his response and actions from here.

The revised budget should be enough to not only maintain current operations, but to avoid the planned layoffs of nearly 90 library workers in the system. For these workers and their families, the decision can provide some temporary breathing room.

Even so, the library has cut operational hours several times over the last four years, and without the suggested budget increase to $64 million, representatives fear the library will fall short in its efforts to recover. Furthermore, libraries lucky enough to have higher revenue in the U.S. are enjoying the ability to implement new technologies and revolutionize the learning spaces they provide. In turn, these libraries become more desirable because they’re playing on the popularity of some of the very technologies that once threatened their traditional livelihood. Unfortunately for libraries not receiving adequate funding, this can become a vicious circle in which they fall farther and farther out of public interest due to not having the money to modernize, while at the same time the very reason they are considered undeserving of public funds is that they have shown a downward trend in popularity.

For the time being, however, Miami-Dade’s libraries are set to rest in a slightly comfortable and slightly uncertain middle ground.

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Amazon tries to appeal to Hachette authors

by Public Libraries on July 18, 2014

Mobile Wallet

The feud between Amazon and Hachette has been detrimental to many authors and readers. Not only are readers not getting access to upcoming titles, authors are not able to market their new releases. Amazon, at least, is now making it possible for the authors to make a bit more money off the ebooks they do manage to sell.

Like any other publishing company, Hachette makes a percentage out of every book they sell, whether it is a hard copy or an ebook. This percentage can vary a little from company to company but there is a standard.

Amazon is now offering to give authors one hundred percent of the revenue on their ebook sales, which, if true, could mean a huge financial boost to these authors affected by the battle between Amazon and Hachette. Of course, the authors still have a contract with Hachette, so they would probably not be able to keep the hundred percent of the ebook sales, but it still shows that Amazon is willing to negotiate.

Amazon is known for being very PR-guided. They have suffered a backlash of negativity from this fight with Hachette and have lost many customers who instead prefer to take their business to independent bookstores, even online ones. This could easily be seen as a way to appease some of the upset customers and fix the way people see them.

They claim they have been trying to resolve this issue with Hachette, but there has been no real compromise. This offer of a hundred percent cut for Hachette author ebooks is more like a Band-Aid than anything else. The problem still exists, and though it is a nice thought that the authors are getting more money for their ebooks, is it really true?

Yes, maybe Amazon is willing to lose their own percentage in each sale, but Hachette still has a contract with the authors stating that they get a certain percent of each ebook and hard copy sold, whether in a bookstore or through Amazon. This means that, in the long run, the author is still not going to get the compensation he or she deserves after dealing with great loss of pre-order sales. For debut authors, who depend on these pre-order sales, this quick fix is too little, too late.

A debut author who is not able to get the kind of pre-sales expected runs a very good chance of not being able to earn the kind of royalties they need to make a living, so in essence, Amazon has still done a great disservice to people who deserved more. Offering them a hundred percent cuts on ebooks is not going to be enough.

It doesn’t seem that this offer Amazon has put on the table will make a big change in what the Hachette authors have been going through. It seems much more like a ploy to get their public image cleaned up.

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Borrow a drone from the library?

July 10, 2014
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Libraries are extending their collections beyond books and movies. More than ever, libraries are trying to meet the needs of their communities by providing computers, printers, and classes. However, the recent purchase of drones by the University of South Florida may create even more headaches for them as they consider how the drones are used. The drones that were purchased can fly up to 400 feet above ground and record […]

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Simon and Schuster ebooks are now available at libraries

June 30, 2014
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Within the past decade, traditional hardbound paper books, which have been a staple in society for centuries have slowly given way for ebooks, or electronic books. There are many reasons why ebooks have experienced such a boom in popularity. For one, they are much more convenient. One ereader can hold up to thousands of books, making titles more accessible to readers across the world. That is why many major publishing […]

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Is technology making libraries obsolete?

June 20, 2014
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In 2011, popular political comedian Bill Maher said, “We have the Internet.  We don’t need a library.  I don’t know anyone that has gone to a library since 1998”. Is the tradition of putting ideas in print going the way of the dinosaurs? It can certainly seem that way these days, given all of the new technology we have for gaining knowledge and interacting with the world. Today, about half […]

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Court rules in favor of searchable database of scanned books

June 13, 2014
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It’s every college student’s dream: to be able to use the ‘find function’ so often utilized on computers to pull out bits of text from an actual printed book. While that isn’t exactly what the HathiTrust Digital Library has done, it’s pretty darn close. Basically, since 2008, the project has involved scanning over 10 million books and assorted works into an online database. These books come from a number of […]

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Self-published authors learn how to get their books into libraries

June 5, 2014
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Are you associated with or working in a library? If so, you might want to prepare for an influx of bids from self-published authors asking you to stock their work. Just this week, the Book Expo America kicked off in New York City, with thousands of books, library, writing, and reading enthusiasts gathered to a plethora of various talks and events. Within the conference, however, sat uPublishU, a sub-conference whose […]

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SUV crash disturbs library patrons in a big way

May 29, 2014
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Most people go to the library expecting a quiet, relaxing area in which to conduct work or research, or to read a new or favorite book in. It makes sense, presumably, as these types of activities are exactly what libraries are setup for. Unfortunately for half a dozen people in Spring Valley, NY, however, Tuesday evening was anything but relaxing. Around 7:45pm, a Toyota RAV4 SUV slammed into the Finkelstein […]

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Austin is getting an expensive library of the future

May 22, 2014
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The people of Austin, Texas voted in 2006 to construct a new library in the middle of downtown on Cesear Chavez Street. The library, originally slated to cost $90 million, recently ran into some budget trouble and the leaders of the project asked for more funding – an additional $30 million, to be exact. In return, representatives and city officials decided unanimously to give the contractors of the project an […]

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Do university students suffer when books get pulled from shelves?

May 15, 2014
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Soon to join libraries across the country – and even across the world at many colleges and universities – Colby College of Maine is slated to move approximately 170,000 books into storage in the next year. This comes as a result of renovation plans which will turn some of the current library’s floor space into administrative offices. The other floor space gained, according to the school, will be used to […]

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