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Seattle Public Library encourages authors to write ebooks

by Public Libraries on August 8, 2014


Seattle Public Library is hoping to pique the interest of area writers with an opportunity to show off their talents in the form of an ebook.

The library has partnered with Smashwords, an independent publisher and distributor of ebooks, to offer a self-publishing platform for aspiring and established Seattle, Washington writers. The pair have also teamed up to offer a self-publishing contest, in which up to three individuals will have their ebooks placed into circulation of the library’s ebook collection. The contest runs through midnight on October 15, winners will be notified by November 15. Eligible entrants must have a Seattle Public Library card and be 18-years-old or older.

This is all a part of the Seattle Writes project to support local authors and connect them with the library’s community of readers. The initiative includes workshops on the craft of writing, write-ins, author panels, and classes on digital publishing.

Smashwords founder, Mark Coker said ebooks have been a natural opportunity for libraries to expand their mission, and to secure an even more important place in the community by helping to promote a culture of authorship.

Coker believes the contest will be a magnificent incentive for writers that ordinarily wouldn’t have an audience. He said writers want readers and libraries offer access to an audience that is willing and ready to read.

The ebook project is funded by a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Andrea Gough, Librarian and a member of Seattle Public Library’s Millennial Factor Project group said it is the perfect way to reach out to its niche of 18 to 30-year-olds that were seeking another way to show off the area’s creativity. The library offers creative writing classes but many felt there was a need to add the ebook publishing platform.

It was once thought that the ebook would lead to the death of libraries as we know them but it has proven to be yet another tool in the arsenal for libraries to offer its members. Smashwords, now working with several library systems, started with California’s Los Gatos Library. It is one of the few self-publishing companies to work with public libraries.

The partnership with local libraries has been a perfect fit for Smashwords. When starting out with Los Gatos, the library system quickly discovered it preferred receiving donations of ebooks from local authors than the presence of physical books. A reason for this is that physical books are more difficult to accept, catalog, and shelve. The ebook acquisition tools have been a simple alternative. Smashwords helped build a publishing portal for Los Gatos Library, which is the same one used by Seattle Public Library.

Seattle Public Library also has a new partnership with ebook supplier OverDrive. Coker said with OverDrive, libraries are a lot closer to closing the publishing gap. A writer can now come to the library, ask how to publish a book, get pointed to a publishing portal, publish a book, and then the book can be purchased by the library.


Summer programs boost library attendance in Florida

by Public Libraries on August 4, 2014

Sales Chart

There aren’t many empty seats at the South County Regional Library in Estero, Florida. The library recently reported a significant increase in traffic during the summer months.

More than 2.8 million people have visited the 13-branch Lee County Library System this year with South County Regional Library boasting record numbers this summer.

Terri Crawford, Deputy Director of Lee County Library System said the response of the community has been great this summer. She said attendance has been through the roof because of the popularity of summer reading programs and other kid-friendly events offered by the library. The programs are designed for kids to keep up with their reading skills for the fall when kids head back to school.

Similar results have been seen in Collier County, where the library system welcomes about 5,000 visitors a day. Library Director, Marilyn Matthes said she has gone to great lengths to get people excited about coming to the library. It’s not always an easy task to get kids excited to be inside and read. This is especially true in the summer months when they could be playing with friends at the pool.

“We’ve had a lot of kids in this summer, which is great, because it’s incredibly important for kids to read in the summer,” Matthes said. “It’s called ‘the summer slump,’ where kids lose their reading skills because they’re not as engaged as they are during the school year.”

Collier libraries try to stave off the so-called summer slump by hosting fun science experiments and museum exhibits. These kid-friendly programs combine both reading and science. Students participating in these events are said to be at an advantage since area public schools are putting an emphasis on educational programs that deal with science, technology, engineering, and math.

It hasn’t just been children filling up area libraries, teens and adults are showing up in record numbers as well.

Barb Farrell Swenson, manager of Lee’s South County Regional Library said the numbers can be attributed to library systems making a conscious effort to ensure the experience is more inviting and comfortable. The environment is not unlike what one would see at a local coffee shop.

“We’re a public place, a lot of people come here for recreational reading, and the more scholarly work,” Farrell Swenson said. “We try to make it as inviting and comfortable as we possibly can to attract everyone, and we also have programs for everyone.”

The regional library has a robust entertainment and music section with roughly 140,000 items on display, including nearly 15,000 DVDs. It also has an online database on its website. With a library card, members can stream music and watch videos in the comfort of their own home.

Even with the summer months coming to a close, the numbers at area libraries are sure to remain steady with students heading back to school. Program directors said they already always prepared and already have a full schedule of events planned for the fall and winter months.


Miami-Dade County to increase public library budget

July 25, 2014
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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 […]

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Amazon tries to appeal to Hachette authors

July 18, 2014
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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 […]

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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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