Running a public library, especially a library located in a historic structure that is pushing 90 years of age is always a challenge. Considering that in 1925 no one imagined that a library would someday have to have computers, wireless Internet access (Al Gore wasn’t even born yet!), LED lights, handicapped entrances, air conditioning, elevators, etc.

Needless to say, while the outside of the library is not that different from 1925, the inside is a vibrant modern library that has capabilities that could hardly be imagined during the ‘Roarin’ Twenties.’ Of course, this type of evolution does not happen by accident. It takes a dedicated and flexible staff, a board willing to try new services and programs, and a community willing to use the library in new ways.

Right now the Meadville Public Library is in the beginning phases of creating a new master plan. One of the first steps in that process is participating in a new initiative from the Public Library Association (PLA) called the Edge Initiative. Twenty libraries in Pennsylvania have been asked to participate in this new project. Basically, Edge measures how well a library is offering the latest in new technology services using benchmark techniques. In other words, you compare how your library stacks up with the top libraries in the U.S. And though we are very honoured to be selected for this project, we also know that we cannot afford to offer both traditional library services and new innovative programs without cutting back somewhere.

Another step in the planning process is asking you, the public, for feedback on what you want to see in your Public Library in the future. Do you want a public library that offers the latest technology but fewer materials? Or a library that has the latest materials but does not have the latest electronic services? Or do we prioritize the electronics services and balance that with selective cuts in traditional library programs? I imagine that everyone has a different opinion on this topic. In order to get as much information as possible we will be asking our patrons to express opinions on these important issues. Sometime this fall we will be releasing a questionnaire concerning our current and proposed library services. There will be both electronic and paper-based questionnaires (we are trying to get an honest opinion here.) At that time we will also allow public comment on what we may be able to offer the public in the future.

Our old library has faced many challenges over the past 90 years. The next ten years will in all likelihood see more changes than in the past 90 years put together. When we release the survey this fall, please take a few moments and tell us how you feel the Meadville Public Library should proceed going into the future.

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While navigating the Internet, I happened upon an article about a library in Texas that, when it opens in the Fall of 2013, will have no books. Well, it will have books but only in digital format. Patrons will be able to download books onto their own e-readers or borrow one from the library. And while the Meadville Public Library may never go completely digital, like the Bexar County BiblioTech Library we will continue to change in order to meet the needs of our patrons. Even as the library continues to purchase hard and soft cover books, we will find other ways to provide access to information. Though record albums and music cassettes have been eliminated, MP3 audio books, online databases, and e-books have been added.

As most of you know, when new formats (e-books for example) are introduced, there is usually a need for education about and assistance in the use of these items. The Meadville Public Library will continue to offer free e-reader classes for those patrons who need help with their Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader device. Lacey has also informed me that the library will once again offer computer classes, at no charge, beginning this summer. Check our website at meadvillelibrary.org or call the library for further information.

And now an update on the weeding process that was begun last year. The non-fiction collection has been weeded through the 700′s and Jeanne is in the process of evaluating the reference collection. Once she has completed that task, we will look at the 800′s and 900′s. I hope to shift those books to make more room for the large print collection which is outgrowing its area.

Finally, I wish to thank all of our patrons who have donated books and DVDs to the library. Library budgets continue to suffer from political wrangling and because of your generosity, items that could not be purchased now sit on the shelves just waiting for someone to discover them.

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The Young Adult Writer’s Forum (http://ya.meadvillelibrary.org/forum) was set up as a place for teens to share their writing with other teens. You have to register to be able to enter all the sub-forums, but once you do you can participate in weekly writing prompts, read other teens’ stories, poems or skits and share your own. If you’re available on Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m., you can join other teens at the library or any time online. Questions? Talk to Jeanne at the Main Desk (336-1773 ext. 303) or e-mail info@meadvillelibrary.org.

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With the weather finally turning nice, it’s hard to think about sitting down to read a good book, but as summer approaches, finding things to do to entertain the kids can be difficult. Consider coming to the library for a good book or bringing the kids to one of our young adult summer activities.

This year, the young adult theme is “Beneath the Surface” and we will be exploring land and water through various crafts. We will also have some great prizes to give away to everyone checking out fiction or young adult reading material. Entries can be made, at the Fiction Desk, from June 3rd through August 1st. We hope you can join us this summer as we discover things “Beneath the Surface”!

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“Dig into Reading!” this summer’s theme will send readers underground to discover all sorts of things – dinosaurs, buried treasure, burrowing animals, ancient cultures, gardens, caves, rocks and more. This year’s Children’s Summer Reading club runs from now through August 2.

Artwork for this year was created by Scott Nash whose fans will remember his illustrations for “Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp,” “Betsy, Who Cried Wolf,” “Oh, Tucker” and the new chapter books with Flat Stanley.

The summer program is open to children from toddlers to those leaving sixth grade. Incentives and activities will provide fun the whole family can “dig.” Craft activities will include flowers from plastic bottles, a night-time diorama of a bat cave, pop-up puppets and more. Each arts and crafts program is divided into two activities – one for younger children and one for older elementary school-aged children. Our annual pet show will be held July 6 in the library’s side yard.

To participate, a child must be a member of one of Crawford County’s libraries. Preschoolers and summer visitors receive a summer card. A special reading garden patch is issued to record each reader’s and listener’s progress through summer reading pleasure and prizes. For every library book read, children receive a stamp on their garden patch. Preschoolers must listen to two books to get a stamp. For every four stamps, a prize may be selected from the display case. When 12 stamps have been collected, participants qualify for two chances to win one of the Grand Prizes. The drawing for these prizes will be held during our Summer Reading Club Party, scheduled August 3 at 10 a.m.  Let’s go digging!

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E-books and how publishers charge for them is a subject appearing in many news stories the past few months. Considering the large investment we have made in e-books, this is something we have been following closely.

After a long process, Meadville Public Library in conjunction with the other eight member libraries of Crawford County Federated Library system have begun offering free e-books at ccfls.lib.overdrive.com.  Soon after we started offering free e-books, we created a survey that asked: “Does the library pay more or less for e-books than regular books?”  More than 80 per cent of respondents said we pay the same or less.  The response is not surprising.  It is logical to think that because publishers do not have to print, assemble, ship and distribute an e-book, they would sell for less than the price of a printed book.

The truth is actually quite different.  E-books cost us $60 to $105 per title, when both the purchasing and licensing costs are included. In addition, we have to pay a yearly licensing cost, which in 2013, will be about $15.00 per title.  Not only do we have to contend with high prices but also restrictive rules. For example, we can only purchase e-books from one vendor, Overdrive.

OverDrive, at the request of the publishers, requires that every patron download Digital Rights software that enforces the rules and restrictions they (the publishers) have imposed.  The result is to make our product, “free e-books,” much harder to access than e-books from Amazon or Apple.  At Amazon, with one click, an e-book will magically appear on your Kindle.  At the CCFLS eStacks site, you have to download special software and then go through many screens to download the book.

There is no doubt that e-books are more profitable for publishers.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that e-book profit margins are 50% while print margins are 10% or less. Even more telling,  Simon and Schuster reported increased profits last quarter even though sales decreased.  Simon and Schuster also reported record sales of e-books during the same quarter.

People ask if it costs so much and the rules are so onerous, why do it?  To be relevant, we have to provide free access to information in formats the public is using.  I can imagine the last time such a disruptive change took place, when scrolls were replaced by books, a similar discussion took place. If scrolls cost less than books, should now our whole collection be in scrolls?  Of course not.  New “disruptive” technologies always change the rules by which we live.

I understand that publishers are trying to protect their rights. However, the cost to purchase and the rules on e-books are much more restrictive than print books.   Recent events make one ask if these rules are truly to protect the publishers’ rights or are they meant to discourage individuals from using free e-books from public libraries? The answer  to that question will affect the free flow of information for the next 20 years.

 

 

 

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We recently posted a survey on the CCFLS website asking patrons to tell us a little about their e-book reading habits. We had just over 130 responses. We will be using the information to help us decide what books to purchase for the CCFLS eStacks. We’d like to share the responses with you. The discrepancies with vote counts comes from the ability to select more than one answer in some questions or patrons not answering every question.

Question 1: What kind of device do you use to read e-books?

With 114 votes, just under half of the respondents use a Kindle. Computer and iPad, iPhone, iPod touch users were tied. Other kinds of devices listed were Sony Readers and Android phones and tablets.

 Question 2:  What kind of Fiction books do you want to read?

Mystery/Detective was the strong winner in this question with 32% of the 217 votes. Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Young adult books were the next highest at 16-17%. Write-ins included Historical fiction, Classics, and Graphic novels.

 Question 3:  What kind of Non-fiction books do you want to read?

Biography/History and How-to/Arts & Crafts took the lead here with 19% and 18% respectively out of 284 votes. Beyond that, the choices were fairly evenly spread with True Crime and Nature slightly ahead. Write-ins included Essays, Green living/Urban farming, and Travel.

 Question 4:  Where should we spend most of our e-book budget?

With two choices and 121 votes cast, 54% said they would rather have current best-sellers which cost more and would therefore mean fewer books while 45% said they’d rather have older titles and more books.

 Question 5:  How much do you think we pay for e-books?

MPL Director John Brice deals with this question in his column if you want more information on e-book pricing. With 120 votes, 40% said they thought e-books cost less than print books, 46% said they cost the same, and only 13% correctly said e-books cost us more.

 Question 6:  Please let us know a bit about you:

The largest number of respondents were females between the ages of 35 and 64 (44%). Women in general won out here with about 70% of the 119 votes.

 

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Now that spring has arrived, those of us who garden entertain thoughts of preparing and weeding beds for flowers and vegetables. Just like a garden, a library needs to be weeded to remain healthy and vibrant.

Because there is a finite amount of space on the shelves and because materials are added weekly, outdated and obsolete items must be discarded to make room for the new. The process of removing books and other materials from the library’s collection is called weeding or if you prefer, spring cleaning. Though weeding is a continual process, the main floor staff is conducting an extensive evaluation of all the collections. This involves removing each item from the shelf and evaluating it based on factors such as age, condition, relevancy, and accuracy and then determining if it should remain in the collection. Anyone who has walked among the stacks on the Main floor in the last two months may have noticed a little more room on some of the shelves and more books on display. We are about one-third of the way through the process and hope to have it completed by November.

Some areas, such as poetry, literature, self-help and cooking remain relevant much longer than books on medicine, politics, and science. Certain items are replaced yearly and include study guides, income tax aids, almanacs, and encyclopedias. Some books, unless their condition warrants removal, are not discarded. These may include local history and local authors.

You may ask, what does the library do with discarded material? If an item is in good condition, it more than likely will end up in one of the library’s book sales or on Amazon’s Marketplace. Be assured that many of the books which are removed from the shelves do find new homes. There are some items however that do not find new owners and are recycled. So if you have a favorite book that is not in the library any more, you may find it at the next book sale.

Please stop by the Main Desk to say hello and let us know how we are doing with our spring cleaning.

 

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E-books are big. You’ve probably heard about them in the news, seen them advertised on TV and online, even read about them already in this newsletter.  Our new collection of e-books through OverDrive, the CCFLS eStacks, are not the only way Meadville Public Library provides you with electronic information, however.  The Reference collection has been moving toward e-books for a while now.   In fact, some of the first e-books available at MPL were in the Reference collection.   Through the Electronic Resources page ( http://meadvillelibrary.org/resources/electronic-resources), you can access a number of databases but also many e-books.  Some publishers allow online access to the e-book version when we buy the print book.  For example, Magill’s Medical Guide is a six-volume set covering a wide range of medical issues.  Salem Press also has a Masterplots series if you are looking for overviews of literary works.  A new addition, Ancestry and Ethnicity in America, is available both in print and electronically.

The Gale Virtual Reference Library is our largest reference e-book collection with topics ranging from biography to business, education to environment, history to religion. Some of the books are only available online while others duplicate our print collection.

We also have a number of test-prep e-books available through the county system in the Learning Express Library.  This database allows you to take practice tests, as well. Lastly, eBooks on EBSCOhost offers a selection of fiction and non-fiction titles.

So, the next time you’re in need of a little knowledge, check out our Electronic Resources page.

 

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With warm weather arriving early this year, many find they’re ahead of schedule on their spring clean-up chores, so why not take a break and read a good book!  James Patterson’s 11th Hour, the 11th novel in the Women’s Murder Club series is just out.  Look for Alexander McCall Smith’s new book, A Conspiracy of Friends, a continuation of his Corduroy series coming in June, along with Bad Faith by Robert Tanenbaum, Blood Line by James Rollins, and Never Tell by Alafair Burke.

June 4th starts our Summer Reading Program with many games and activities for young adults.  This year’s young adult theme “Own the Night” will have us solving mysteries, making ghost story journals, and creating art from fingerprints along with many other planned activities.  For more information, stop by the Fiction desk and pick up a bookmark listing all the summer activities.  We hope everyone will join us for another exciting summer as we “Own the Night” together

 

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