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New library in San Diego gets a new director

by Public Libraries on November 19, 2014


San Diego, as many other cities, is looking to bring its library system into the 21st century.  Of course, that’s no easy task when the very definition of the technological cutting edge – in the library world and in every other sector – changes from day to day.  Rapid advancements in both the needs of community users and the services that libraries can provide have driven rapid turnover within the past decade.

In order to help supervise the opening of the $185 million downtown library, the city of San Diego has flown in Misty Jones, of South Carolina, to help them bring their dream to life.  Jones, who was appointed interim director in July, knows she has some “big shoes to fill.”  She’s not only overseeing the new library’s opening phases, but is also in charge of all 36 libraries that are part of the system for now.

For what it’s worth, Jones received a master’s degree in Library Science while attending the University of South Carolina.  In South Carolina, she would go on to lead two different library systems in her career before moving to California for this most recent project.

Jones is obviously experienced in library management, and those hiring her recognized this.  That said, the scale of the system and the project she’s taking on will definitely be a step up.  Jones says she’s thrilled with the opportunity, and isn’t afraid of the challenges ahead; she knows there are plenty of groups (including the Friends of the San Diego Public Library) who are rooting for her success, and who have the resources and experience to help her navigate her new job – and location.

Jones made a point of recognizing that one of the strengths of libraries “is their ability to redefine themselves to fit public need.”  Many would agree that this trait isn’t just a strength, it’s the very key to libraries as a system continuing to survive and be relevant.  Library systems that haven’t adopted newer technologies often find themselves struggling.  Not only do they suffer in terms of patronage, but their lower perceived usefulness to a community often also translates into receiving less funding from government sources.  This situation can quickly spiral, with one factor continuously exacerbating the other, and vice versa.

Libraries that have embraced ebooks, tablets, and other modern learning tools have often seen a boost in popularity in recent years.  Previously struggling systems suddenly find themselves flooded with visitors.  That said, the pace at which technology continues to change may be a problem, none but the luckiest (and wealthiest) of library systems can hope to keep up with each new version of an iPad, or a highly complete and regularly updated database of digital materials.

Jones is expected to have a salary around $150,000 per year (based upon her predecessor) and is fortunate to be taking over a popular system.  Of course, her value to that library system will ultimately be determined by its users and taxpayers.  We wish her the best of luck.


Detroit gets its first Little Free Library

by Public Libraries on November 11, 2014

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Ever heard of a Little Free Library?  If not, you’ve probably seen one as you’ve driven or walked around. They are probably the world’s smallest libraries.  In fact, there are over 20,000 of them worldwide now, with a high concentration of them located in the US. These “little free libraries” function as the name implies; they’re basically oversized mailboxes – though usually decorated or built out of nice wood – that have a couple of shelves for books on them.

Inside, visitors are encouraged to either take a book or leave one, without any code of exactly when a book should be returned, or even where it should be returned to. These small library systems have been sprouting up everywhere for several years now, ever since a Wisconsin man erected one in front of his house to honor his mother who had passed away.

Now, Detroit has just placed the first of their 20 initially planned little libraries, to be built in and enhance public places like parks and gardens. Last Thursday, a small ceremony was held as the first little library was opened for ‘business’ in the area.

Todd Bol, the man behind the first tiny library, is actually connected to the Detroit effort in a big way. A woman by the name of Kim Kozlowski decided to launch a fund raising campaign via (a popular “crowd sourcing” website for all kinds of projects) in order to help built libraries all over the city. Bol heard about the campaign, and pledged to give her 20 of the little libraries to use to help her get her efforts off the ground.

Kozlowski says that part of the effort goes beyond the immediate impact of the libraries; Detroit is known for some fairly troubling crime statistics, and she wants to help move focus away from the negatives in favor of more uplifting prospects, like the libraries. She even talked of making the city the “Little Library Capital.” While they may not be the capital yet, her Indiegogo goals are ambitious, and she looking to go all out with the libraries.

Beyond this story, the little libraries also represent an interesting shift in dynamic. Because of their lack of rules and general free form nature when compared with traditional libraries, they’re able to appeal to a new range of people. Most people lead busy lives, and while the prospect of setting aside time to read a novel is challenging enough, the idea that they’ll have to also give up time to travel to the library adds to it. With the little free libraries, a walk out to grab the mail could be all it takes to put someone in the vicinity of a place to grab a book.

Plus, no late fees (users are encouraged to take and leave any number of books as they please, at any time) means that no one has to worry about marking a calendar or taking longer than anticipated to get through something they’ve “checked out.”


Community funding can really help libraries in need

November 5, 2014
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With the economic roller coaster of the past decade still very much in focus, state budgets are often cutting costs wherever they can.  Unfortunately some lawmakers deem libraries as “non-essential” parts of government services.  This can mean a severe shortfall in the amount of funding received versus the amount needed. In Springfield, Missouri, however, community funding efforts organized by groups formed to help promote library activities are helping to supplement […]

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Florida library program looks to encourage young authors

October 27, 2014
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Remember the days of free library programs? Once upon a time, not too long ago, children especially could find a variety of programs at their local libraries ranging from help with school studies, to story times, to workshops, to crafting tutorials. These types of programs represented the heyday of the library as a treasured local fixture… and they’re making a comeback. Nowhere is this more true than in Florida, at […]

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Students get an excuse slip if they cannot access a library computer

October 20, 2014
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If you don’t have a computer, you can’t do your homework. That’s the dilemma many kids are running into in Miami, Florida – and across the country these days. It’s a big reason the South Dade Library computer laboratory has been crowded to capacity on most school nights. Christina Morua is a mother of two young children who do not have the luxury of the internet in their home. Many […]

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Ohio library system gets more visitors by offering more than books

October 14, 2014
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Across the United States, libraries have had to become more than just a place to check out books. It’s no different for the Licking County Library in Newark, Ohio. Patrons are now coming to the library to go online and view information on the internet, watch movies, and even participate in a yoga session. Director of the Licking County Library, Babette Wofter said it is the job of the library […]

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Robots are coming to a library near you

October 6, 2014
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Libraries are becoming more and more high tech with ebooks, tablets, and virtual visits. But one feature at the Wesport Library in Connecticut is straight out of science fiction. The library will introduce a pair of toddler-sized robots named Vincent and Nancy. With flashing lights for eyes, an ability to sing, dance, and speak 19 different languages, the newest additions are expected to create a lot of excitement. Library officials […]

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How much space should libraries dedicate to physical books?

September 29, 2014
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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 […]

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New York City libraries want 10 year funding plan

September 22, 2014
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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 […]

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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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