Why the Internet Will Never Replace the Public Library

stackswithlightAs a librarian, I am sometimes asked why we still have public libraries.  Those who ask the question assume the Internet has made libraries obsolete, and besides, they believe no one goes to them anymore anyway.  After resting the urge to slap them, I quickly set about correcting the error of their ways and share why libraries matter as much today as at anytime in their history.

In a new article I set out to dispel the myths and shed light on the role of the modern library.  For example, in the except below I discuss how libraries are vital to our educational system:

“So how does a public library contribute to a strong community?  Primarily, public libraries are one of the three pillars of education in our society.  Alongside schools and colleges, libraries provide educational opportunities for residents and compliment the curriculum of the other two institutions.  However, public libraries have a key difference from schools and colleges, in that they are open to all. Whereas children age out of the school system and colleges may only be a 2-6-year long experience, public libraries provide services from cradle to grave.  They are also one of the few places in our society that embrace the democratic principles of openness and equality. No one is turned away from the public library and its resources are typically free to its residents. Income and background are irrelevant to obtaining a library card.”

Read the rest of the article on my site.

 

Fine Free @ PBCLS

pbclslogoDoes anyone like overdue fines?  Library members hate paying them, the staff dislike collecting them, and do they even work to get people to return items on time?

That is why I’m happy to announce that the Palm Beach County Library System has become fine free.  By doing so we have joined the ranks of public libraries across the country that realized library fines are an antiquated notion.  Starting on October 1, the Library System moved to the fine free model.  In a recent Palm Beach Post article, reporter Hannah Morse quoted from my presentation to the Board of County Commissioners the reasons why this change was required.

“Across the nation, public libraries now view fines as an impediment to service,” said Douglas Crane, director of the county library system. “Late fines actually stand in opposition to the library’s core values of equitable service, supporting early literacy and free access to information.”

Crane added that fines “act as a barrier and create inequitable service, disproportionately impacting children and community members with limited financial means.”

Learn all about the change on the library’s web site. And remember, you still need to bring your items back.  We just won’t nickel and dime you about it if you are a few days late.

Join the Petition Against McMillan

Have you ever heard of a business flat out refusing to sell their product to a reliable and well funded customer?  Sounds like a crazy way to do business.  However, that is the case right now between some publishers and libraries. Hachette and HarperCollins are two publishers who have changed their lending models to make it more expensive and restrictive for libraries to purchase eBooks and eAudiobooks.

Now, one publisher has decided to implement a new model designed to severely limit public libraries from providing eBooks to their residents.  Beginning November 1, 2019, Macmillan Publishers will allow libraries to purchase only one copy of each new eBook title for the first eight weeks after a book’s release.  Macmillan claims that libraries are eating into their profits, yet libraries already pay on average $25 per title, and often have to buy it again after a set number of downloads or years.  As the American Library Association states:

ala-logo“This embargo would limit libraries’ ability to provide access to information for all.  It particularly harms library patrons with disabilities or learning issues. One of the great things about eBooks is that they can become large-print books with only a few clicks, and most eBook readers offer fonts and line spacing that make reading easier for people who have dyslexia or other visual challenges. Because portable devices are light and easy to hold, eBooks are easier to use for some people who have physical disabilities.

Here’s the truth: Limiting access to new titles for libraries means limiting access for readers like you.”

Help ensure that public libraries have access to eBooks for all readers.  Sign the ALA petition to let publishers know that access to eBooks is a right for all!

Unique Libraries Around the World

What do train tracks, philharmonic orchestras, and giant chess sets have in common?  They are all features found in new, groundbreaking libraries from across the world.

The Straits Times, a periodical from Singapore, recently released an article on wonderful and creative new library designs.  It includes examples from cities as diverse as Helsinki, Calgary, Doha, and Austin.  All of these new buildings challenge the traditional ideas of what makes a library a library.

“Helsinki Central Library in Finland: Only one-third of the 185,000 sq ft space is allocated to books – the rest is community space for meetings and activities. An urban workshop on the second floor, for example, has sewing machines, scanners and printers as well as laser cutters and soldering stations, with spaces allocated to sewing, making badges and even playing the drums.

Calgary New Central Library in Canada: It has train tracks running through it, as the site was designed to accommodate an active Light Rail Transit Line that already existed. The lobby is an arched bridge that lets locomotives go under it and in “living rooms”, patrons can sit on swirly chairs and watch them zoom by all day.”

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Calgary Public Library

View the rest of the article and learn more about these innovate library designs on The Straits Times web site.

Forte Labs & Public Libraries

This year, ForteLabs stars Tiago and Lauren came to Florida to work directly with Palm Beach County Library staff to help them build their own second brains.  Working in person and remotely, library staff got to explore the latest techniques in the science and art of digital note taking.

Tiago Forte just released an insightful summary of the experience working with us on his Praxis blog.  His post neatly captured the character of modern day librarianship and the opportunities the profession has to be a leader in spreading productivity practices.  He also gained a deeper appreciation of the mission of public libraries.

“Far from being a dusty, stale institution stuck in the past, what we saw on our tour was a vibrant, dynamic, quickly evolving organization full of people who care deeply about accessibility for everyone. Lauren and I were blown away by the breadth of the library system’s programs and services, and all of them offered for free to anyone. We came away with the sense that the library was an absolutely vital part of the community, especially for those with the fewest resources.”

Read the blog post on the Palm Beach County Building a Second Brain project here.  As an added bonus, you can read Tiago’s second posting on the role of public libraries as social infrastructure here.  Thank you Tiago and Lauren!

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Library Leadership Podcast

I am an avid podcast listener.  My iPhone has over a half dozen different shows in cue for listening throughout the week during the commute.  However, it had been a long time since I had been interviewed for one.  That changed last week when I was contacted to be a guest on a podcast that is now on my playlist.  It is the Library Leadership Podcast.  If you work in libraries I advise that you add it to your list as well.

Hosted by Adriane Herrick Juarez, the Executive Director of the Park City Library in Utah, she invites notable library leaders on to her show to discuss a wide range of topics.  Some of her guests, Lance Warner, Felton Thomas, Peter Bromberg,  participated in my recent article Go For It! Advice From Library Directors.  She has also interviewed two ALA Presidents, Jim Neal and Loida Garcia-Febo.

Adriane is interviewing me at the end of the month, so I’ll keep you posted on when that episode becomes available.  In the meantime, go ahead and catch up on past episodes of Library Leadership Podcast.

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Ready, Set, Bank

I just returned from the ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC.  If you are not familiar with it, the conference is the largest gathering of librarians, library workers and supporters in the world.  It is a great opportunity to uncover new trends, meet up with colleagues, and discover new technology.

person holding pink piggy coin bank

This year, I came across a wonderful free online course that can be done individually or through library facilitators.  It is called, Ready, Set, Bank.  The course is designed to educate people who are unfamiliar with online banking.  Two target populations for the course are seniors and immigrants.  As the course states:

“Ready, Set, Bank℠ gives people everywhere the tools and confidence to start banking online. Our videos guide learners through every step of the process, with overviews and step-by-step tutorials to help them manage their finances electronically.”

The course is a series of short online videos set into five chapters that are meant to orient individuals to the basics of online banking.  I am excited to explore the possibility of bringing the course to the Palm Beach County Library System.

Learn more by visiting the Ready, Set, Bank web site.