Thursday, August 07, 2008

Compare and contrast the following news items that involve libraries. These articles were next to each other in my weekly search for news on libraries in Google News.

'Libraries on borrowed time', from Camden in the UK: A member of the Camden Public Library Users Group (CPLUG) has been worried that the number of books held in the libraries has declined. "Since 1999, Camden has reduced its books stock by 200,000 books which is “effectively closing five libraries by stealth,” according to retired engineer Mr Templeton, 70.
He added: “We did hope a change of regime at the Town Hall would have an effect, but it didn’t." (There is a comment section at the bottom of that article - please do comment.)

Now these two articles:
1. Libraries step into the age of iPod . Reporting on the changing programs in libraries today, the article refers to one in Phoenix: "In Phoenix, for instance, branches have banded together to create a digital library that currently has about 50,000 titles of e-books, audiobooks, music and videos that can be "checked out" from anywhere." Tom Gemberling, the electronic resources librarian, reported on a recent audience reaction when he presented to a group of senior citizen RVers: "They were cheering and screaming by the end," he said. "They were so excited. They're RVers, so they can go anywhere on the road, find a computer, go into the Phoenix Public Library catalogue, download a book and play it while they drive down the highway."

2. Libraries shelve old ways A story in the Montreal Gazette covers the Navigating with Youth Conference for librarians. An excerpt of the article: "As libraries across the country try to reach out to people more at ease using search engines than hunting along bookshelves, some institutions are choosing to stock some unconventional material.
The Greater Victoria Public Library has turned to video games.
"Literacy has more than one meaning," says Kirsten Andersen, who works at the Victoria library. When one 16-year-old boy wrote to the library to complain about its decision to add video games to its inventory of books and DVDs, "I told him what we tell people who challenge our material: That everyone has the right to choose what they want themselves, and we provide a variety of materials and everyone makes their own decisions.""

Me again. Interesting contrast of articles. As librarians and library boards keep all users in mind, we need to also recognize that what some of our audiences consider a successful library program may no longer be considered successful by those running or accrediting the library (such as book count). What statistics mean more to you when you design programs or conduct collection development activities? People in the door and on your website? Hits to the database and eresource collections? Communicate those new statistics to all levels of your community - they need to know and understand that your library is doing well by new standards. Otherwise, they may think that the place is ready to close down if a traditional statistic (book count, door count) has been slipping over the years. Folks might infer your library is failing, when in fact it is thriving. Congratulations to Phyllis Christensen of the Marathon County Public Library in Wisconsin for doing just that, in this article: /apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080807/WDH04/808070327

No comments: