Posts Tagged ‘public library’

What will libraries do with all that extra space? Fiction E-books outsell print hardcovers

July 19, 2012


Full year 2011 sales mark the critical mass for the sales shift away from fiction print editions to the E-book format.

Adult fiction ebooks outsold hardcovers in 2011-survey 

“Net sales of e-books jumped to 15 percent of the market in 2011 from 6 percent in 2010, according to a report by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. The groups compiled data provided by nearly 2,000 publishers. Total overall U.S. book market sales declined 2.5 percent to $27.2 billion in 2011 from $27.9 billion in 2010, the report said. While ebooks increased in strength, bringing in more than $2 billion in 2011, the majority of publishers’ revenue still came from print books, with $11.1 billion in 2011.”

While only holding 15% of the total book market, the market share growth of E-books is quite breathtaking. In a year that saw overall book sales fall by 2.5% over the previous year, E-books market share more than doubled. This raises some critical questions for all libraries in response to this dramatic shift:

  1. Did your library shift enough in by doubling your E-book holdings and decreasing your print purchases?  Or are you falling behind the customer demand curve?
  2. What will be your strategy to monitor the effective weeding of print materials as the usage continues to swing to digital formats?
  3. What will be your shelving and floor space strategy as your print holdings decrease in size? What will you do to effectively use this new found extra space?
  4. Did your library spend the last few years with a renovation/expansion project on hold due to the troubled economy? Are those old plans even valid anymore?
  5. Are your library’s customer demand patterns for E-books the same demand patterns as they were for print hardcovers. Did you know one of the hottest demand E-book category is the “romance” genre? Do you know that an increasing number of elementary grade students have their own E-book device?
  6. How are you delivering, informing and marketing this collection shift for your customers?
  7. Are you making Kindles, Nooks and other E-book readers available to your customers. Are you offering training and support to your customers who already have their own devices? 
  8. How does your customer access your E-book collection? Is it easy, intuitive and customer friendly?
  9. Does your E-book website portal allow for and promote the: tagging, rating and reviewing that happens in the online retail world? Compare your site to Amazon and see the difference.
  10. How will you handle the likely customer complaints as your non E-book customers come to recognize the smaller collection size of print?
  11. Are you and your staff trained and ready to positively handle these challenges? Are you ready to promote and support these changes? This is real and unstoppable.

I believe this is the beginning of a tremendously positive opportunity to reinvent your library to make it even more relevant, useful and an even more important component of your community’s quality of life.  This is a new opportunity to reach out to and connect with both new and existing users of your library who may choose to access and use your services in a new 24/7, 100% digital way. Lets face it, most of us have changed our retail shopping behavior because of great internet retailers. Our expectations about what shopping is have changed. Libraries need to rapidly adjust to these changes. What happens to your funding if you don’t keep up with this change?

Are you up to the challenge?


Libraries – power, joy and passion.

January 23, 2010


I unabashedly love libraries…all kinds of libraries!  Big libraries, small libraries, old libraries, new libraries and public libraries as well as school libraries.

In several conversations over the past few weeks about libraries, I realized that most people spoke from quite differing viewpoints. There were positions for or against different formats, different customer service ideals, different expectations concerning funding sources, overdue fines, bestsellers, computer usage….you name it. Nearly anything that could be viewed differently…was viewed differently. I left the conversations with a nagging uncertainty. How could there be so many different ways to think about the role of libraries?

I realized that I understood why I loved libraries. I know why I am a passionate believer in the power and joy that libraries can bring to people’s lives. But maybe, many other people had a library experience that was quite different than mine. Those personal life experiences about libraries give then their own unique understanding,  perspective and values.

My love of libraries has been influenced by a number of experiences during my life. As an early elementary student – the county bookmobile stopped in our neighborhood, on our street. With no nearby library and no 2nd family vehicle, the rolling library brought far away places and people right to me.  The arrival of the big, noisy, smelly,  black bus, brought yells of excitement and a mad dash home to get our library cards. Stepping inside and seeing all those books and getting to take two home to read and then return again for more adventures a week later was pure magic. Would it be a Hardy Boys mystery and maybe a book about some wild animal or outdoor adventure? During the summer, those new books were sure to mean a few late nights with the flashlight under the covers.

The bookmobile was followed by our school library. A K-8 private school – with a small, lovingly created collection. Compared to the bookmobile, the options seemed unlimited. For the first time, I saw encyclopedias and dictionaries and amazing nonfiction to do homework assignments with. The big, real world was there in those pages.

High school brought an even larger collection. Remember a time when reference was the dominant part of high school collections? No internet, no google – just print reference. Anything you needed to know were in those pages. Granted – it took hours and sometimes days, but it was in there. Then came a college library in the 70’s that seemed like a warehouse filled with the world’s knowledge. Those old, musty books, the quiet spaces, the decades old single carrels tucked away – seemingly locked away from the rest of the world. Endless days spent exploring, thinking and writing in the world of science, literature, philosophy and more. Group projects meant, index cards, stacks of books, quiet debate and mountains of yellow legal pads of hand scratched notes – the words, numbers and scribbles that occasionally evolved into stories, or projects to be proud of.

As a twenty something trying to make it on my own – working, having fun, learning about life – I moved 4-5 times chasing career opportunities. Each new city or town had a library that offered advice and information as I tried to learn and become a better manager and professional as well as just getting acclimated in a new community. In my 30’s, marriage and family brought the joy of the bedtime story. There is nothing better than a new stack of picture books from the library and having an infant or toddler on your lap turning the pages and loving the moment.

As a professional traveling and working with both school and public libraries, I continue to see all the magic in those rooms and buildings filled with information, computers, librarians and customers and students – all in search of sharing and or receiving the power and joy that libraries offer. I am especially encouraged to see how many libraries, school and public, are moving to further enhance their sense of community and personal interaction. It is no longer just about the content – increasingly it is about the people connections. As the world gets “flatter” and we can interact with people and places from around the globe in an instant, our libraries offer unique opportunities for learning, sharing and engagement in our local and expanded communities. I understand we have many problems: funding, staffing, changing technologies, leadership challenges and increasing competition. But all of those problems have solutions.

Maybe it’s time we stop and take the time to ask questions and really listen to each other.  We all have a library story to tell. It is within these life experiences that our passion for libraries resides. Maybe it’s time we ask: staff, customers, local government leaders, school educators and especially our kids to explain why – “Libraries are important to me because…?” From these stories come our passion for library advocay. Let’s talk…. and listen.

Maybe it is within these shared stories and understanding that we will find our common ground, the new ideas and the courage to solve our many challenges. Passion always triumphs over fear.

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Public Libraries – jobs, social services and funding, oh my.

February 26, 2009

People need real help!

Where to turn???  Things keep getting worse.

Example: The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania has climbed to 6.7 percent  from 4.9 percent a year ago. The state has processed an average of 46,000 initial claims a week since Jan. 1, a 52 percent increase over last year.

As the struggling economy continues to cause the loss of thousands of more jobs each month, public libraries have become the essential provider of  resources, advice clinics, access to online job search and online social service applications for those seeking employment and help in this time of need.

Public libraries around the country are partnering with profit and non-profit groups to create advice clinics, counseling sessions and additional resources for topics like: employment and career, home foreclosure and access to social services. Norman Oder at Library Journal Online has these examples:

NYPL Session Helping Laid-Off Professionals Draws Crowd 

At San Diego County Library, Foreclosure Clinics Draw a Crowd

The computer access that public libraries provide for internet service for the online completion of job applications and social services is critical to those who have no access or have discontinued their personal online web access due to a lack of funds.  From E-government to E-job-hunting

Now you may ask, how can libraries continue to expand their services and resources for their struggling communities?  The answer lies in an expanded effort to better partner with community groups and your funding partners. See the advice here from Stephen Abram on Funding resources for libraries.

During difficult times – great libraries work smarter, get more creative, develop new partnerships and most importantly – stay focused on the specific needs of their communities. 


American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – for Libraries

February 21, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act  – we must fight for funding projects for libraries. In these critical and challenging economic times, libraries deserve some funding from the stimulus bill. It won’t happen automatically. See below.


The ALA has created a webpage with critical and timely information about the available funding as well as the mechanisms for advocating the use of the funds for libraries. There are very specific programs from which funding could be used to support library programs.

ALA – American Recovery and Reinvestment Act info site is here:    

Besides the opportunities listed on the ALA website, both school and public libraries should consider unique and new partnerships wth each other. The Federal Education Dept. is looking for and willing to fund – innovative and unique new programs that will support student learning and improve workforce readiness.

I have previously listed some good ways that school and public libraries can and should work together. The posts are here:  School and Public Libraries Work! (Together would be best) Part 1  and here: School and Public Libraries Work! Part 2  Maybe your school and public library could sit down together now and create a plan for a partnership program including requird costs.  Submit those plans to your State Dept of Education for funding consideration. The A.R.R.A plan is to begin funnding within 60-90 days.

Please act now. Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to greatly improve your school and public library partnership.

Library: patrons or customers? … I like – Members

November 6, 2008


Not: patrons….. Not: customers……. Members. 

The credit for this idea belongs to Joan Frye Williams: 

I attended a public library presentation recently where Joan presented a half day seminar. Joan did a wonderful job helping us to think about libraries in some new ways. She discussed a survey she did that tried to communicate how users of a public library would like to be identified. The survey winner: members.  I think that is perfect.

The old fashioned term “patron” seems just that…old fashioned. I have always liked the term “customer”. Customer conveys a more specific “service” provider and receiver relationship. But I must say….”member” gets it even more right. Member implies “a person” who is a part of the community. The term is more friendly, more personal, more warm and more engaged. A member might be: a family member, a school member, a church member, a local community member….. or all of those. You get the picture. I especially like the idea that “member” conveys a sense of “belonging”. Isn’t that exactly what we hope happens to all those people who enter our doors, or use our services… that they feel a sense of belonging?

The term member also conveys a sense of relationship. No longer a top down, us vs. them. A member is more of an equal, a part of the team. A member has a stake in the process and the outcome. A member has ideas, thoughts and wishes that need to be taken into consideration. A member gets to contribute.

So I move we abolish the term “patron” and even “customer” from our language and written communication. We are all “members” of our local and even the larger…library community as a whole. Thanks Joan!

Video – A New Librarian Assistant?

October 9, 2008

Did you ever wish you had a way to have your own personal video of your self answering that same question over and over and over….? You know the ones: what time do you close?, when does this book have to be back?, where is the bathroom? When you hear the “question”, just hit the play button and voila…..question answered. It’s a nice fantasy isn’t it? As you know by now….I would always expect librarians to give the best customer service possible. Our customers deserve that.

But what if there was a way to give great service and solve that “repetitive question that needs an answer” issue. Why not let short, to the point, online videos – help solve the problem of: never enough time….and… our customers deserve good service.

Another great video from the folks at Common Craft gave me the idea.  Web Search Strategies in Plain English. 


Keep the video bookmarked on your computer system. Then when a young student or a new library customer asks the age old question: “How do I find some information about ….fill in the blank….. on the internet”?  You simply have them view the 2:51 minute video and they have a good start. There are lots of wonderful and informative videos just like this one available for free on the web. Check out YouTube and the TeacherTube sites for some great ideas. Also the Common Craft website has many terrific instructional videos, most aimed at teaching Web 2.0 skills.

For those brave technology explorers, consider screencasting. Screencasting is creating short, instructional videos by capturing your computer’s on-screen movements and adding audio for explanation.  For a good rundown and some resources check out the iLibrarian link here: A Quick Guide to Screencasting for Libraries

Using existing free web video resources or creating your own custom screencasts could be effective ways to stretch your personal time and to provide valuable 21st century information skills for your students and customers.

I have some more video ideas on the Vodpod video display on the right and on my Great Library Resources page.

New Kindle – not so fast! Kids want to read books on paper.

October 6, 2008

I was watching some blogs debate a possible new Kindle updated device. You know Kindle from as that hand held electronic device that downloads then displays books, newspapers and blogs. Will there, won’t there, maybe for Xmas shopping……. I don’t really know. But the Kindle rumor mill reminded me about the study commissioned by Scholastic: The 2008 Kids & Family Reading Report, found here: 

In part it reminds us that 75% of kids age 5-17 agree with the statement, “No matter what I can do online, I’ll always want to read books printed on paper,”

Other key findings from the report:

  • A majority of KIds say they like to read books for fun.
  • One in four kids age 5-17 read books for fun everyday.
  • Kids believe that technology will complement – not replace – book reading.
  • The majority of kids (62%) prefer to read books printed on paper.
  • Nearly 2/3 of kids ages between 9-17 have extended the reading experience via the internet.
  • Parents overwhelmingly view reading as the most important skill a child needs to develop.
  • Trouble finding books they like is a key resaon kids say they don’t read more frequently.
  • 82% of parents say they wish their child would read more books for fun.

I know there’s a lot of truth to the statements about parents views. I know I am pleased and grateful when I catch my 2nd grade daughter curled up on her bed reading a picture book or an exciting new Junie B. Jones chapter book. I also find myself catching the girls in front of the TV more times than I would like. I know that when a new book comes home from the school or public library…..the book usually wins out over the TV. Without a new book in hand…the TV wins out. My wife and I have to keep making sure that the girls keep picking out and have daily access to books that they love.

To all those parents and grandparents out there….take the time to stop by your local public library and pick out a new book or two for that special child in your life. You will both feel better….I promise.

Libraries – but no books….then what?

September 24, 2008

 Libraries – but no books???

I had some very concerned thoughts as I read the New York Magazine article that was highlighted on the Library Link of the Day . The article titled – The End – details the current challenges and serious issues facing the book publishing industry. So I started thinking…. and I ended up with some questions I can’t answer and some thoughts to ponder:

If publishers are all chasing the few and perhaps rare “mega, bestseller title” that seems to be the only way publishers can make a profit…. then fewer mid-list titles get published. Over time the backlist begins to shrink…. the breadth of new titles diminishes….. choices become limited……. hmmmm.

What happens to libraries as the pace of published titles slows down based on the challenging economic realities for publishers?

If Amazon begins to control an ever larger slice of the bookselling world and the “publishing” world…. do they become … just another wholesaler resource? Or will Amazon choose to only sell directly to the public and cut both bookstores and libraries out of the book consumer supply chain?

If the “Kindle” or whatever the next generation electronic gadget becomes a true book replacement…   where does that leave libraries?

If traditional marketing: book reviews, newspaper advertising, author tours and booksignings can’t be shown to actually improve the sales of books…. then all these activities will go away. How and who will control or influence the word of mouth or “viral marketing” that will lead to increased customer book demand?

If the currrent trend of a smaller and smaller book reading adult population continues…… who will actually read all those books currently on library shelves? If the books go away… because circulation declines significantly…….. what will libraries do with all that empty space?

As publishers possibly shift toward producing books as web based “movies” or online story “experiences” and the actual printing of books on paper diminishes….. will the library be needed as the “place” people go to to borrow books? And if they aren’t going to the library for “books”…what will they go there for?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. I don’t even know for sure if any of these things will come to pass.

But what if they do….. will libraries be ready?

“Recession” Funding for Public Libraries – It’s Critical!

April 24, 2008



You have seen the headlines: Gasoline prices at an all time high. Foreclosures up 100%. Home sales down again last month. Food prices up 40%. Possible food shortages this summer.

As the economy continues to weaken – libraries must be prepared.

During slowdowns or recessions – consumer discretionary spending falls. Retail sales fall. Entertainment spending drops. Vacations are downsized and big ticket item and new home purchases are delayed. In all of these economy sector’s revenues will fall. Government tax revenue will surely fall as well. Many of us been through these cycles before. We know that revenues will be down.

The question is: In challenging economic times – will school and public library funding be cut to help balance strained state and local budgets?

But what of the school and public library demand. With entertainment, education and most other discretionary spending cut, families will turn to the public library. The free resources: information, books, audio, video, children’s and adult programming as well as internet access will all face increasing demand.

An economic downturn also means higher unemployment. Job seekers will turn to the library for employment information, resume and computer skills help as well as internet access. The digital divide is real and will grow during tough economic times. With many large companies moving to online job postings, online applications and screeening tools – those who become unemployed or underemployed without internet and computer access will miss out on those job opportunities.

With the possible cuts to school library programs, the public library will be an even greater resource for local students. When the internet access at home is gone, students must turn to the public library.  Books and other circulating resource needs will go up as students will have limited time within the library to complete research projects. The materials will have to go home.

Strong library programs have been scientifically proven to contribute to student academic success. If school library funding is cut – there will be a negative impact on student achievement. Can the public library help minimize this negative impact – of course we can.

As adults look for ways to stretch their budgets – consumer information needs will grow. As retirement and savings accounts face downward pressures – stock, financial and general economic information needs will grow. As individuals decide to cut back on medical care spending – health information needs will grow.

What can libraries do?

Redouble your outreach and marketing efforts to help those customers who may not have used your library services in the past know about all your materials and service offerings.

Have renewed conversations with your local legislators and other elected officials. Make sure they understand the critical role the library will play in the support and vital interest for the well being of your community. Families, adults and students will turn to your library in increasing numbers.

Thank them for their previous support and begin the dialogue to inform them of future needs you may expect. Libraries have been excellent stewards of the public funds. I know we will continue to provide a high return on their local investment in the library.

Talk to your local school librarians. Know how their library program may be affected by budget cuts. Discuss new and improved collaboration in support of the the students needs.

Plan, plan, plan. Make sure you are prepared with materials, programing and resources for these new customer demands. Prepare for a possible budget squeeze. Talk to your staff about being fiscally prudent and start discussing ways to conserve on staff and reprioritize spending patterns. Consider some job sharing and allow staff a greater say in new ways to consider floor coverage and operational issues.

The tools, information and resources the library provides will help your community weather the economic storm of this weakened economy. By improving job outlooks, minimizing unemployed time, saving consumer dollars as well as providing family educational and enrichment resources – the library truly will become a critical community asset. 

How well you handle the needs of first time or “long lost” returning customers will go a long way toward improving the standing , funding and support for your library when the economy does improve.

With strong planning and improved community outreach let’s continue to build “great libraries”.


Automated Library = “intelligent” drop box

April 11, 2008


Library service and 24 hour convenience without going to the library….bring it on.

BEIJING, April 8 — Locals in Shenzhen, a booming city in southern China, no longer need to visit libraries in person. Instead, they can borrow and return books from a library automation system much like banks’ ATMs.

The ILAS system includes self-checkout and return, security gates, and programming and circulation stations. All forms of media available at the library will be RFID tagged, from books to CDs to videos to library cards.

    The report says the machine can hold more than 400 books, which are encased inside a glass window and circulate on a three-layer conveyor belt to facilitate readers’ selection. The machine is equipped with a box to hold returned books and a computer to help readers search for book information. The round-the-clock service system can even issue library cards. “

Here is the full story and photo: Automated library machine debuts in Shenzhen.

I think the new automated system is brilliant. It won’t replace librarians, that isn’t the point. As described in the details it is a “smart” drop box. It would be refilled with requested items and probably some high demand titles as well. This is about getting the library “transaction point” out into multiple locations where the customer is present. It seems to me it is a way to have multiple “circ desks” all supporting the library function.

From the article: “The city plans to build 30 to 50 automated librarian machines this year in public places including subway, supermarkets and office buildings”.

Let’s get librarians out behind the circ desk and let them actually work with customers. Wouldn’t it be great if we let the machine take care of routine functions like library cards, check out, returns etc.

If energetic, service oriented librarians could spend their day on “high value” interactions with their customers, the library world would be better off.

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