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How much space should libraries dedicate to physical books?

by Public Libraries on September 29, 2014

Empty Bookshelves

When Bob Jewett goes to the Georgetown library, he usually picks up a handful of books, a few magazines, and his daily newspaper. The one thing you won’t see him picking up is an ebook or, more correctly, an ebook reader. At 78-years-old Jewett prefers large print paperbacks, not computer, tablet, or phone screens.

Delaware libraries are quickly changing, however, with full computer labs, ebooks, and digital classes, it’s actually started to become a little bit tougher to find an actual paperback book. In short, libraries are reinventing themselves by going digital.

The Wilmington, Dover, Georgetown, and Seaver libraries are all about offering new and innovative programs. Current programs include resume building, applying for a career, and even preparing for a General Educational Development (GED). It doesn’t end there, Lewes offers a class where you can create a pattern on a workstation computer, and print it on a state-of-the-art 3D printer.

At the Brandywine Hundred library, young readers can sit comfortably and read to the library’s dog. Jean Kaufman, director at Brandywine Hundred, said the kids love the dog because he’s a great listener, isn’t forgiving on early learners, and just plain loves to be read to. Bear library offers classes in entrepreneurship, where patrons can sit and talk with fellow entrepreneurs through state through video conferencing.

Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock said libraries are becoming more of an all around learning center than just a place with books. But even if libraries are becoming more technical, they still have a little something for the older generation. For example, if grandparents want to learn how to connect online with their grandchildren, there’s a class for that. Libraries are offering social media class that teaches everything one would need to know about connecting with others on popular social networks – and keeping safe while they’re at it.

Bullock said that what makes the library systems so special in Delaware is their ability to adapt. Stacks of books and encyclopedias are being swapped for high speed internet. But many are asking how much space should be reserved for books versus making more space for activities and computer labs.

Recent polling showed 20 percent of library goers throughout the United States want to give up books for labs and activity space, while 36 percent aren’t quite ready for a change.

Deputy Director of state libraries Beth-Ann Ryan said digital technology is growing throughout the state with patrons wanting more access to ebooks, and e-magazines as well as streaming video. Library systems are doing their best by providing access to tablets, smartphones, and e-readers. Every day, an estimated 1,000 ebooks are checked out by Delaware residents. There are about 2.5 million ebooks available throughout the state. These are located at public libraries, as well as high school and college libraries through loans provided by the state.

Ryan believes libraries are quickly returning to their status as the central focus of the community. They’re friendly places where residents can learn and grow. It’s also where people can interact and stay connected. It’s no longer just a place to pick up a book. While the rate of change may be disagreeable for some, libraries are working to keep up with the times, and they appear to be doing a pretty darn good job.

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New York City libraries want 10 year funding plan

by Public Libraries on September 22, 2014

Dollars

Whenever it rains in New York City, workers at the Sheepshead Bay library rush to move computers and valuables into another room to avoid a leaky roof.

The leaks have been so bad in the past, in fact, that patrons have had to walk through knee deep puddles of rain. Library branch manager Svetlana Negrimovskaya said the city’s libraries are in maintenance crisis mode. It comes at an inopportune time too, as more and more residents are flocking to city libraries.

The Center for an Urban Future recently released a report called “Re-envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries”.

In the report, it states Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration have the perfect opportunity to fix up the libraries in the five boroughs. It also has the ability to put each library on proper footing with room to grow for the countless number of visitors that depend on them.

The City has three nonprofit library systems including the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and the Queens Library. BPL has 60 locations, serving residents in Brooklyn. The New York Public Library system is America’s largest system, with 88 branches and four research centers throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

It was reported that the library system needs an estimated $1.1 billion in funding this year, and that doesn’t include money that would be necessary to forge the system into the 21st century with amenities such as ebooks and more outlets for mobile devices. Officials believe the chances of receiving that amount of money are very slim. One reason for this outlook is the fact that many residents believe elected officials already aren’t doing all that they can for the library, making it hard to fathom them approving a larger funding sum going forward. Much of the money that could be used is being allocated to other projects already.

That said, since 2004, the city has allocated $500 million toward library system improvements, which the report calls insufficient due to the amount of work the infrastructure requires. The report continues that the library systems have their hands tied due to the fact that all of their funding decisions are based more upon political matters than actual maintenance and design needs.

In short, the library systems will either get a much-needed jolt of vitality or continue to slide downhill based on the decisions of local elected officials in the near future.

Close to 36 million people went to the library system’s 207 branches in 2013. An estimated 2.4 million children visited each branch for special programs (like a librarian-hosted story time, for example). In a 10 year span, patronage to each library system increased by 46 percent. Members that attended special programs rose by 62 percent.

The Center for an Urban Future report goes on to point to other big city library systems and what they are doing right. It said New York should emulate cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; these systems created a 10 year plan to justify funding.

A spokesperson for the de Blasio administration, Marti Adams said the Mayor knows how important the library is to each community and its residents. She said that is why de Blasio increased the budget by $10 million and will continue to do what he can to invest in New York City’s library systems. For now, it remains to be seen if that is all talk or if a significant amount of money will go to area libraries.

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Texas library creates amnesty program for late fees

September 15, 2014
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The Houston Public Library is in a forgiving mood. Patrons that have a balance on their accounts due to a lost or misplaced item such as a book or DVD can have their fines erased from the system under an amnesty program the library is currently offering. The program is only available to those that sign up for the “My Link” library card by Sept. 26 and have less than $25 […]

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Floating library makes a stop in New York City

September 9, 2014
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More and more libraries are becoming creative and pulling out all of the stops to try and bring new patrons through their doors. Many libraries are starting to offer ebooks, while others are completely digital and don’t offer traditional paper books at all. New York City is offering something a little different for a month when the Floating Library comes to the Hudson River from September 6 through October 3. […]

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Florida Polytechnic University features a bookless library

August 29, 2014
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The newest public university in Florida is trying something a little different with its 11,000 square-foot structure – going totally green. Florida Polytechnic University, located in Lakeland is taking a bold step by offering a digital catalog of 135,000 ebooks. Paper books will not be offered at the fully digital library. FPU, which is not yet an accredited school, has an enrollment of 550 students in its inaugural class. Students […]

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Taneyhills Community Library joins consortium so they can offer ebooks

August 25, 2014
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The Taneyhills Community Library in Branson, Missouri now officially offering ebooks. Kent Olson, Board President of the Taneyhills Community Library said the service became available to its patrons a week ago. Olson said charging for library cards and other services at the library has helped make it possible to loan out ebooks. Without these small fees, he surmises, it would not have been possible to install an ebook system at […]

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Seattle Public Library encourages authors to write ebooks

August 8, 2014
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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 […]

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Summer programs boost library attendance in Florida

August 4, 2014
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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 […]

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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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