Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 2008 "Governing" Magazine Features Two Articles on Libraries

For those of you unfamiliar with this monthly publication, here's a description from the 2007 edition of "Magazines for Libraries".

The men and women who set policy for and manage the day-to-day operations of cities, counties, and states, as well as such governmental bodies as school boards and special districts, are the primary audience for "Governing".

(Two questions you should ask yourself at this point. What do my policymakers know about my library? What am I doing to keep them informed on a regular basis?)

Link to "Revolution in the Stacks".

Highlights and excerpts:

The article opens with a vignette about Studio i, a multimedia production studio that is part of the Time Warner Cable Tech Central at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County (PLCMC).

(Read about ImaginOn, a collaborative project of the Library and Children's Theater of Charlotte.)

Excerpt: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg library system hasn't always tried so hard to appeal to teenagers. For a long time, public libraries everywhere viewed teens as unreachable — too old for story time, yet too rowdy for the reading room. Now, libraries are beginning to see serving teens not as a nuisance but as a critical test of whether they can survive in the 21st century.

The article goes on to note that, despite the challenges of the Internet, library use continues to grow.

Excerpt: Nationally, circulation of books and other materials at libraries keeps edging up each year, despite the Internet revolution. Currently, many cities are seeing big increases in visitation, as is common during economic downturns. And in many libraries, the public-access computers are in demand from open to close — a reminder that even if the universal library seems closer to reality, universal broadband access is still a long way off.

Instead of making libraries obsolete, as we first heard predicted in the mid-1990s, the Internet has reinvigorated their mission.

The author notes some examples of libraries taking their cues from retail.

1. The Perry Branch of the Maricopa County library system in Arizona scraps the Dewey Decimal System and arranges it collection by areas of interest. See Library Journal article here. (If I weren't retiring, I'd love to experiment further with this idea at Middleton. We already use a bookstore approach with our career and education titles. Graphic novels, too.)

2. The proliferation of library cafes and coffee shops.

3. Comfortable seating and "living room" areas.

Kennth J. Mack Reading Room at the Middleton Public Library

4. The library as the "third place" -- not home, not the office, but a place where people want to spend a lot of time. (Salt Lake City Public Library) Excerpt: "It's not about the building," says Nancy Tessman, the recently retired Salt Lake library director who was most responsible for getting it built. "It's about letting people explore and learn on their own terms." (But what a beautiful building it is.)

The trend of creating content -- not just offering it.

1. Ann Arbor Public Library. Website as blog.

2. Hennepin County Library. Customer comment feature within online catalog.

The article concludes with another look at Charlotte and Mecklenberg County and includes this thoughtful observation.

Excerpt: "A lot of people say we need to serve teenagers because they're future taxpayers," says Michele Gorman, who manages the Loft. "I think that's the worst way of thinking of teens. They deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy and we need to be inviting so we can pull them in. Adolescence is one of the craziest times in life. They're trying to figure out how to fit into society, and we need to give them a place to do that."

A companion article in the June 2008 issues of "Governing" focuses on the success of PLCMC's "Gaming Zone" events but notes that there are differences in opinion among librarians regarding gaming in libraries.>

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