Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Limitless Libraries

Here's yet another article related to MNLFI themes. This one is from The Tennessean.

November 21, 2011
Written by Nancy DeVille

Novel idea unleashes surge in Limitless Libraries usage

Before the school day begins, Brandon Munoz is already in the library.

The Goodlettsville Middle School sixth-grader is averaging about 20 books a week. His favorites are graphic novels such as the Bone series, or popular fiction titles such as Diary of the Wimpy Kid or Darth Paper Strikes Back.

Just last school year, he mostly visited the library out of obligation, but an agreement between the school district and Nashville Public Library — called Limitless Libraries — is making things a little more interesting. Metro middle and high schoolers can use their home or school computers to check out books, DVDs and CDs from the Nashville Public Library and have them delivered to their schools.

Library officials in New York City, Boston and St. Paul, Minn., have called Metro in recent months, interested in implementing similar initiatives.

The program also includes updating school libraries. In the past few months, 31,730 titles have been removed from middle and high schools — some with copyrights dating back to the 1970s, including science books with Pluto included as a planet. New books include Advanced Placement prep volumes and popular fiction titles such as The Hunger Games and the Twilight saga.

“It’s fun to read as it just takes you to another place and boosts your imagination,” said Brandon, 11. “I’m raising my reading grades since Limited Libraries has started.”

The program launched as a pilot in 2009 in four Metro high schools. The program expanded to all high schools in 2010 and to middle schools this year.

Limitless Libraries is sending more than 7,000 items a month to Metro schools, similar to the circulation at some library branches. Circulation has increased in schools, some as high as 140 percent, library officials say.

“We are seeing overwhelming successes,” said Tricia Bengel, interim director at Nashville Public Library. “Kids are borrowing more books than they have ever borrowed, and they have access to different types of materials than they have even had before. It’s a good problem to have, but we are struggling a little bit to keep up with the increase in circulation.

“It benefits the library because we’ve added 15,000 patrons that we didn’t have before. We are building our patrons of tomorrow.”

'A model for others'

Students use their student ID as their library card and log onto the Limitless Libraries system to request materials be delivered to their school. They have access not only to their school collections but also to more than 1.5 million items from the Nashville Public Library. More than 23,952 students are participating — 15,000 of them as new library cardholders.

Students new to this country or with poor English skills check out required reading in audio book format to help them learn the language.

Mayor Karl Dean was instrumental in forging the partnership between Metro Schools and the Nashville Public Library. It was at a time when only 14 of the district’s 16 high schools had the volumes required per student to meet state Department of Education standards, and much of the material was outdated, he said.

“This takes advantage of a great library system and helps us improve the library systems that our kids in schools have access to,” Dean said. “It’s a model for others in how we should be organizing ... libraries.

“It’s a compliment to our libraries and schools that other cities want to adopt this program.”

For the 2012 fiscal year, $1.196 million have been placed in the budget for the Limitless Libraries program. Library officials hope to expand it to elementary schools next year.

Obstacle overcome

Allison Barney, librarian at Wright Middle School, said the program helps eliminate one of the main barriers students have in accessing items from the public library — transportation.

Since the program started at Goodlettsville Middle School in September, an average of 60 kids use the library daily, outside of time required by their teachers. Alison Maliszewski, the school’s first-year librarian, is bombarded daily with kids asking the same question: “Are my books here yet?” She says she can get new releases as quickly as the public library can.

Popular titles are always the first to go, along with Playaways, preloaded mini mp3 audio books.

“For a new librarian, I feel like I have so much more to offer them,” said Maliszewski, who previously taught fifth grade at the school.

“I’ve seen a lot of kids that were not typical readers that are now coming in here. Anytime they are reading, it’s going to increase their scores. Our collection has expanded one hundredfold.”

Many of her students are checking books out for siblings and parents.

“I’m now the librarian in my house,” Brandon said. “Every time I get a chance to get on the computer, my little brothers keep asking me to get on Limitless Libraries.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Florida Library Makes 34,000 Ebooks Available at International Airport

Sharing an article from The Digital Shift that details an embodiment of an idea we'd kicked around earlier this year.

November 8, 2011

Travelers at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport can now download free ebooks from the Broward County Library while they wait to claim their luggage.

The partnership between the library and the airport began during the summer but only recently has begun to attract notice. The airport all together has 36 LCD screens that are reserved for advertisements or public service announcements.

Twelve screens near the baggage claim now also display a QR code that the traveler can scan with a QR code reader app on their smartphone or electronic reading device, and then they can access over 34,000 public domain titles via the library’s OverDrive platform. No library card is required and the titles never expire.

“The library did all the heavy lifting and we just provided them the venue,” said Greg Meyer, the airport’s public information officer. “The airport’s position is that it’s one more customer convenience that we can provide to make the experience better. We have free WiFi and when something comes along like this, where there’s only positive impact for the passengers, why not,” he said.

Meyer said the only caveat was that the airport had to make sure that the service would not take money away from airport concessions.

“We had to be careful not to compete with vendors selling hard bound books,” he said. “The library ensured us that it was older books that would not compete with more current titles being sold,” he said.

Catherine McElrath, the library’s publications specialist manager, approached Meyer about the project.

“Working with the airport was a real pleasure. They were really open to the idea,” McElrath said. “It’s a wonderful way to bring library services to people everywhere,” she said.
There is no charge for displaying the QR code since the airport regards it as a public service announcement.

Stephen Grubb, the library’s e-services manager, said the program is averaging about 20 to 30 downloads a month, but he is expecting that number will grow as people learn about the program.

“People think about books when they think of the library, but they haven’t really made the connection between the library and ebooks yet. This raises their awareness,” he said.

He also said using the QR codes was a quick and easy way to get people to the library’s website and also to appeal to a younger demographic who may not be using the library.

The library is planning to expand the program at the airport and also is working with Broward County Transit to display the QR codes at bus stations and also possibly at Port Everglades, which serves all of south Florida.

“These ebooks are things people could go out and find elsewhere, but what libraries do best is bring information to people, like answering a reference question,” Grubb said. “That’s what we do best and this program is an example of that,” he said.

The library is making a concentrated effort to highlight all its e-services in a program called BCL.WOW, or a library without walls, which will include a mobile app that is scheduled to become available in December.

“We want to broaden the perception of library service,” Grubb said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ALA + Tea Party = Unusual Coalition

Libraries may become Smooth Criminal's by linking to illegally shared content, oh noes!!!111oneHere's an interesting developing story heard this Wednesday morning on American Public Media's Marketplace Tech Report. This story, as it unfolds, will affect everyone who uses the Internet.
  • "The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today concerning the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. It's a bill recently introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that would block access to websites that distribute unlicensed content or facil
    itate the distribution of that content."
We're not talking about tasty soup here, folks. We're talking about giving someone authority to blacklist and block access to websites. The big problem is the vague language in the bill.
  • "The bill uses a bunch of different terms to try to define these sites, some of which come from the case law the courts have been using, but it also has other terms that are less clearly defined in copyright law, like 'facilitate.' Does YouTube facilitate downloading?"
Consider which sites might be blocked beyond the obvious ones like torrent sites or those streaming illegal live TV. Could it be YouTube? Imagine if that whole site was blocked. How about this blog? How about your library website? Are you linking to a site that could be sharing unlicensed material (that you're not aware of), because if so, then your library website is a law-breaking criminal.

Wondering about the title of this post? Well, "opposing the bill are the A.C.L.U., the Tea Party Patriots, the American Library Association and Facebook."

Read or listen to this very interesting and developing story on Marketplace's website: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/battle-over-sopa-heats

Monday, November 7, 2011

How worried should we be by California?

LA Times OpEd
California must value librarians; libraries can't run themselves

Librarians are more than book finders, shelf arrangers, computer technicians and shush-ers. In a society overwhelmed by data, they are the gatekeepers and organizers of high-quality information.
  • "Other states employ an average of one public librarian to 6,250 patrons. As of last year, 3,432 full-time librarians served 37,253,956 Californians. In other words, California librarians were each expected to serve 10,854 patrons. We also employ fewer school librarians than any other state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Here, there is one school librarian for every 5,965 students; the national average is one librarian to 865 students."
  • "Still, the idea of shutting down a library is unpalatable to most officials. So they lay off librarians to keep the buildings open, supporting the illusion that libraries can simply run themselves."
  • "As one resident wrote in a letter of protest to the mayor of Anaheim, "Libraries without librarians are like hospitals without doctors." California cannot afford to lose any more librarians without risking the quality of what is left of our libraries as well."
And a response: Saving libraries but not librarians

Friday, November 4, 2011

Johns Hopkins Medical Library Closing

On January 1, 2012, the Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins University will close its physical building to users and shift all operations to an online environment. Citing a decline in on-site visitors and explosive growth of online journal usage, the decision was made to re-purpose the 81 year-old library's space and deliver all services electronically. Librarians will continue to provide support for the teaching and research missions at Johns Hopkins as "embedded informationists," found in the work-flow of clinicians, investigators and instructors.

An interesting point covered by the article from the Digital Shift is that the Welch Medical Library currently allocates 95% of its acquisitions budget to electronic journal and database subscriptions. According to the library director, Nancy Roderer, savings from closing the library will be redirected back to the collections budget, resulting in a collection that is 95% digital. Roughly translated, this means that 95% of the Welch acquisitions budget will be invested in licensed content rather than owned material. Eighty one-years of collection development and 400,000 volumes later, the Welch Medical Library is mortgaging its future as an information provider on a radically different acquisitions model.