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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 to be a source of information. It has always been the go-to source, but the way information is provided today is very different than what many are accustomed to. The library is becoming more of an experience than what it was in the past.

Wofter has been director since 2010 and it has been her goal to bring programs to the library that will get people talking. She has never been the kind of person not to take a chance. She says if you’re not taking a chance you’re not trying hard enough. Under her direction, kids are able to hear stories from veterans, while local greenthumbs give tips and seeds to those interested in gardening. There is even space for teens to play games and participate in a Battle of the Bands contest.

Barbary Sanderson, a teen services assistant at the library, has had to get creative to get kids and teenagers excited to come to the library and participate in its programs. One such idea was to start a Green Teens program. This was after Sanderson noticed that going green and upcycling was popular amongst teens. Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value. The library hosted a “Trashion Fashion Show” where teens used recyclables to create fashionable clothing. It was a success with over 40 teens participating to create 13 outfits. The cost of the program was a mere $5 which went to purchasing tin foil. Everything else had been donated by the Licking County Recycling Center.

Wofter and Sanderson believe the programs are doing very well, with most usually filled to capacity. While most libraries are seeing a sharp decline in circulation, the Licking County Library’s circulation continues to increase. Wofter said it’s a sign that the community enjoys what the library has to offer.

A “Friends of the Licking County Library” group was recently established for the Licking County Library in an attempt to raise money for its multiple branches and popular bookmobile. The bookmobile is essentially a library on a school bus that offers books, magazines, and DVDs.

President of the Friends of the Licking County Library, Marilyn Donahue said she can’t wait to see the value the group will bring to the library. Donahue, a patron of the library for over 20 years said is excited to be a member of the group and that it is something that’s long overdue.

The service group will support the library through fundraisers and events throughout the year. In the near future, it will begin to solicit membership support.

Wofter believes the support of the group will be very beneficial to the library in the coming years. She urges locals to stop by the library if they haven’t been there in a while. She said the library is very different than it was just a few months ago. Many would not recognize it with all of the activities going on.


Robots are coming to a library near you

by Public Libraries on October 6, 2014


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 will announce the pair of humanoid robots on October 11 at an opening ceremony. The purpose of the robots is to teach children how to code and acquire the computer skills needed today and in the future.

Libraries have offered computer programing and robotics instruction for several years. However, the Wesport Library is the very first to use humanoid robots. Digital Experience Manager, Alex Giannini said the robots are able to take bows, create karate moves, and kick a ball.

Executive Director of the Westport Library, Maxine Bleiweis, said robotics is the next big technological advancement coming into our lives and people must be prepared for it. With so much to learn, it is crucial to get a grasp of robotics as soon as possible. A reason for this she said is that robots will be a part of every job function in the future.

New technology has been a priority at Wesport Library. Bleiweis has made it a point to provide access to advanced technology. An example of this is when it acquired a 3D printer over three years ago. It was the first library in Connecticut to do so as well as one of the first in the United States. It also has a dedicated space for people of all ages to try out computers and technology of all kinds. In this space, patrons can dabble in computer coding and other do it yourself creations.

Other libraries throughout the U.S. are experimenting with robots. Most recently, Chicago Public Libraries, in a partnership with Google, Inc. announced it would make close to 500 robots available at its six locations. These robots, the size of a dinner plate will be utilized to teach patrons computer programming and code.

Many people surmised that the popularity of the internet would mean the end of public libraries. Librarians say technology has had the opposite effect, making people more interested in libraries because of their ability to adapt. Pew Research shows that 81 percent of Americans believe public libraries offer services that many would have a difficult time finding anywhere else.

With schools placing an emphasis on subjects such as science, math, and engineering, robots are coming to the Wesport Library at just the right time.

Giannini believes the technological advancements such as 3D printing and humanoid robots can spur wonder and imagination that may not have been sparked otherwise. For the time being, the robots will be used for practical uses. Giannini sees them helping people find books and greet children that visit the library. He said after a few months the possibilities are endless.

The library is counting on humanoids to spark interest and entice those that may not ordinarily come to the library to check out all of the new technology.


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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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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