Friday, February 3, 2012

Rockford Register-Star Editorial Board to Library: More Public Input, Please

Editorial:  Future of Rockford Public Library needs public input. (Rockford Register-Star, 1/28/2012)

Excerpt  [with emphasis added along the way]: 

The recent debate about how much money the Rockford Public Library should spend on its digital collection is a small piece in the broader question of what we want our library to look like.

Not only what should it look like and offer, but how does the library make itself relevant to the almost two-thirds of the population that doesn’t have an active library card.

The library’s move toward spending more on digital resources is inevitable. Most companies, including newspapers, have been slow to adapt to new technology and the Internet.

The Register Star, for example, started dabbling with online content in the mid-1990s. Today, 16 percent of our readers access us only online and 45 percent of our print subscribers also read us via the Web. The mission of any taxpayer-supported entity should be to serve as many people as possible.

A Harris survey in 2008, which was drawn to our attention by the American Library Association, showed that 68 percent of Americans had a library card. In the Midwest, the number was 72 percent.

The number of active cardholders in the Rockford Public Library system is 55,154 out of a potential of more than 150,000, or about 36 percent. Rockford’s historic low educational levels probably factor into that number.

Related article:
Save Our Rockford Library members pack board meeting.  (1/28/2012)
Save Our Rockford Library (SOL) calls for more public input in library's strategic planning. (1/14/2012) 
Rockford Public Library will boost spending on digital and audio books in 2012. (10/13/2011)
Supportive editorial for Rockford Public Library needs a fact checker. (9/1/2011)
Rockford Public Library circulates 0.05 ebooks per capita in 1st half of 2011. (7/13/2011)

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