The vast majority (94%) of parents of minor children (children under 18) feel libraries are very important for their children, not only because they foster a love of reading, but also because they provide information, resources, and a safe place.
Our new report out today portrays the special bond that parents, especially mothers, share with libraries.
I don’t have kids but my sister does, and I know they use the library a lot—their public library had a “1,000 books before kindergarten” program and my niece (at age three!) was the first to finish. :) The reward was, naturally, a book. (No, she’s not reading on her own yet, but that will come.)
I wasn’t entirely sure what the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) would look like when the long-awaited launch date of April 18 approached. The suspense is finally over: it looks great.
The DPLAs not going to be a digital version of your local public library’s collections and services – at least, not yet. It is trying to do three things right now: pull together digital assets from major national and regional digital collections into a well-organized, unified, easily searchable portal; provide digital tools and metadata that others can use to build new applications; and provide national leadership in the effort to encourage open and collective access to our shared cultural record.
If you didn’t know, Pew Internet released a new survey about libraries today. It’s called Library Services in the Digital Age (there are lots of things in there I won’t be addressing but that are also worth noting), and I’ve seen some emphasis this part:
In general, Americans feel somewhat well-informed about the various services offered by their local libraries. While about one in five (22%) feel they are aware of “all or most” of the services and programs their public library offers, a plurality (46%) feel they just know of “some” of what their library offers. Another 20% say they know “not much” about services offered by their library, and 11% say they know “nothing at all” about what is available at their library.
It goes on to relate patrons’ stories about how they hear (or don’t hear) about programs, sometimes too late to participate.
I will absolutely acknowledge that marketing/advertising is a problem for many libraries (I’ve worked at one such library), so there are definitely shortcomings that can be addressed.
But I’ve also been thinking about how I would answer that question myself, as a patron rather than as a librarian.
The Pew question was this (from page 14):
Now thinking more broadly…overall, how well-informed do you feel you are about the different services and programs your public library offers? Do you feel like you know…
ALL or MOST of the services and programs your library offers
SOME of what it offers
NOT MUCH of what it offers
Nothing at all
Answering this as a patron, I’d have to say I know only some of what my public library offers. Which is to say, I know of those things that are pertinent to my interests and while I know vaguely that there are other services and programs (e.g. storytimes, downloadable things), I don’t pay attention to those because they don’t pertain to me.
So is it really a problem that these patrons don’t know ALL of the things offered by their library, so long as they know about things that would be of interest to them?
To me, the fact that 68% of patrons know some, most, or all of the services and programs offered by their library is awesome! Despite what some are saying (e.g. Sorry, 22% is Not Enough), I don’t think the 22% is something to worry about. I’d worry more about the 31% who know “not much” or “nothing” about what the library offers—it seems to me that’s the number that needs to be worked on most.
A note: since I recently moved, I can honestly say that I don’t yet know all of the services offered by the library where I am now employed, much less about my local public library. Instead, I’m thinking about this in the context of the public library I used in Maryland, where I was a pretty frequent user for almost five years.
Yet when asked whether they would be willing to give up existing resources to make room for these things — to move some books to off-site storage centers to make sense for a device-testing center, for instance — only 20% of survey participants said they were in favor. Thirty-six percent said libraries should “definitely” not move books off-site.
Which sums up the whole problem, really.
It struck me how much the arguments made for MOOCs are similar to the public library movement of the 19th century. MOOCs are for the people, they are meant to spread knowledge, they help the poor and disenfranchised get a leg up by assimilating a body of knowledge created by great minds. They are free to all and a terrific opportunity to advance the reputation of that site of learning.
Prepared by the ALA’s Digital Content & Libraries Working Group (DCWG)
In the “Ebook” report, the DCWG recommends three basic attributes that should be found in any library business model for ebooks:
- Inclusion of all titles
All ebook titles available for sale to the public should also be available to libraries.
- Enduring rights
Libraries should have the option to effectively own the ebooks they purchase, including the right to transfer them to another delivery platform and to continue to lend them indefinitely.
Libraries need access to metadata and management tools provided by publishers to enhance the discovery of ebooks.
Why Support Your Local Library? [infographic]
There’s a choice academic and public libraries face. One is to focus entirely on providing access to the published information that our community members want. The other is to make libraries a platform for creating and sharing culture.
But we too have choices to make, both libraries and scholars. The next time your library spends $40 to get you an article you want to read, think about the implications. Is this really how we want to do it? Do we conduct research and write it up so that those who are affiliated with institutions that can afford to subscribe to lots of journals or can pay $40 for the temporary personal use of an article can have that knowledge, but nobody else can? Really?
You don’t have to be outdoors to have a fun summer. In fact, some of the most gratifying and enriching activities might happen within the four walls of one of our country’s 123,000 public libraries.
The range of info posted by USA.gov is always fascinating, and this particular post is just awesome. ;)
Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle’s design of the McAllen Pubilc Library in Texas is a case study of creative reuse.
The Louisiana budget signed by Governor Bobby Jindal on June 15 eliminates almost $1 million in state aid to libraries, according to The Advocate. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said Jindal excluded the $896,000 when he presented his proposed spending plan, and legislators failed to find funding for libraries during the regular session.
Rebecca Hamilton, State Librarian of Louisiana, told LJ, “The State Aid to Public Libraries program was eliminated from this year’s budget. This money was given directly out to the public libraries on a base grant and per capita basis. They used the money for technology and collections.”
For a lot of people, if they can’t get it cheap or free, they just won’t get it. For some people, it’s that they don’t have any money. The Discount Diva profiles the thinking of the cheap middle class, those who have some money, but don’t want to part with what they have. Just watch people haggle over library fines to see how cheap they are.
Libraries are helping both of them, and providing them with free stuff, but it’s free stuff that wouldn’t have been bought.
This sums up my public library usage very nicely. I do end up buying books (or asking for them for Christmas) when I really like something I’ve read from the library, but for the most part I don’t buy what I read. I don’t have the disposable income necessary to buy as many books as I read. ;-)
I think there are three, maybe four key principles that libraries must adopt to deal with ebooks. All of them are finding resistance from the Big Six. Ownership: if we pay public dollars for content, then we need to be able to take possession of the copies. Anything else is sheer vendor lock-in, and shirks our obligation to preserve the public record. Discounts: volume purchasers (that would be us) get a break on price. Integration: our job isn’t to make it harder for the public to find content (the misguided notion of “friction”) – it’s to make it easier. One search should bring up everything the library offers. We can’t base our business model on customer frustration.
The fourth principle may be revenue sharing. Again in the name of patron convenience, I’m more than happy to provide a link through our catalog to purchase an ebook. But if we do, I think we should get a piece of the sale. Insistence on that is the only way publishers will take us seriously – and constitutes a powerful ongoing demonstration of our value.