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What makes a public library great?


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I've been elected to the board of the local public library, and we have our first meeting Monday night. I know what kind of things I like to see in a public library.... a nice, quiet, inviting space, bright and colorful children's area, an emphasis on books as opposed to computers and videos, and a dynamic assortment of featured books. (to name just a few)

 

I would like to hear from others who have an opinion on the subject.... So what do you think? What makes a library great? Oh, and this is a very small town with a budget to match. :)

 

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I loooove my library. :001_wub: :001_wub: :001_wub:   It's pretty much perfect.

 

I'll second you on the children's section.  There are no computers in our children's section except the ones that only connect to the card catalog.  No video games, no videos at all, and very, very, very few character books.  Almost none.  (Children's videos are with the other videos in a separate section).

 

No fines.  Really, we don't have them.

 

Great, easy interlibrary loans that I can order from my home computer.  So if my library doesn't have it, I can get it easily.

 

Friendly, welcoming, helpful librarians.    One librarian told me that some librarians from other libraries jibe them that ours would give a patron the potted plants off the floor if they asked.  She laughed and said - yeah, we probably would!

 

ETA: We do also have the Teacher cards (also for homeschoolers) with longer check out times.

 

  And... this is only a nice-to-have, not a must-have, but we can now get coffee, tea and cocoa in the library from a Keurig for $1.   There are little cafe tables nearby that are also nice for studying.

 

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Use of space is important. Our town built a beautiful, shiny new library a few years ago. I love how much bigger it is, and it is quite lovely, but I don't actually enjoy spending time there. It is basically one big huge open space, so that you feel on display at all times. I much prefer the older, smaller library because it has nooks and corners and walls. My absolute favorite library is in the town next door, which has lots of different spaces -- big open ones, small quiet ones, study rooms with doors, etc. I also like having a choice between comfy upholstered chairs with low tables and traditional work tables and chairs.

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Teacher library cards for homeschoolers, teachers, grad students, etc. with longer checkout times. Books can be recalled if there is a request for a title, but otherwise checkout periods of 12+ weeks.

 

Interlibrary loan from home for free and reliable arrival of books placed on interlibrary loan preferably in a short time frame but I know that is not always possible.

 

Friendly, helpful children's librarians who actually keep up on children's literature and can recommend titles about a certain subject.

 

Enough copies of books to keep wait times low. I don't mind waiting a couple of weeks, but having 4 or more people waiting for the same book usually means I will just buy it myself or pass on reading it.

 

A conscious choice to invest in classic literature rather than 20 copies of "Dora the Explorer Goes to School".

 

Quality book titles *on the shelves*. Our current overcrowded library has SO many books checked out at any given time that you cannot go there and expect to find any good books. You have to request titles weeks in advance to get your hands on any books you actually want to read. We spend very little time physically in our library because all I end up doing is ushering the kids away from the drivel left on the shelves.

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At my library I appreciate the computer system where I can look up books from home, place them on hold, and have them waiting for me to pick up. We are allowed 65 checkouts per card at a time. I have hit this limit a few times, so I am happy we are allowed so many. My library has quite a few children's audiobooks of classics, which we have borrowed extensively. We have also really made use of the documentary DVDs and nonfiction series like EyeWitness.

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My reference librarian! She can get anything for me through ILL and totally understands why I want to look at curricula before I buy and that doing so doesn't make me a guilty-until-proven-innocent copyright violater.

 

She's also very polite to little ds when he wants to talk to her about how exciting the library is to him.

We're small and underfunded too, so I'm not happy about the 3 book per card limit on reserves but I understand why it's necessary.

 

What makes the public library great is that deliberately withholding information and education from low income people is not advantageous to society. I have (in the past) gone without food and heat to pay for books and it did NOT turn me into a more docile worker or a more obedient consumer.

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For me and the way I use the library:

 

* a retrospective children's collection, especially in nonfiction

* a children's collection that focuses on having a wide array of books in the system instead of having enough copies of a few books for everyone

* friendly librarians

* dedicated children's and YA spaces, preferably separate from the adult spaces

* no fines for overdue materials

* access to overdrive and other online resources

 

For the community and the way the city uses the library:

 

* homeless outreach (this is something being done at many libraries and I know there's some at ours as well)

* plenty of computers with internet access to be used

* meeting spaces for free or nominal fees

* lots of community events for all different kinds of people

 

I know a lot of us tend to disdain computer resources in libraries, but the library is an important access portal to the internet for people who don't have it at home or who don't have a home at all.  Our society demands that you have access to the internet for basic functions, so I see this as a really key job of libraries now, even though it's a service I pretty much never access other than to occasionally tap the wifi on my iPad.

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Number one- actually having books.  I live in a place where there are bunch of individual small city libraries (even though it's really one big giant city), so none of them has all that many books.  And even the county library system doesn't seem to have hardly any at the branch that is actually near me.  We went there- shelf after empty shelf.  Where are all the books?  Why do I have to go online and request them from other county libraries to be shipped to the one by me for hold?  It's not that they are checked out of mine- they just don't have hardly any books.  Very sad.  You can have all the computers in the world, and a nice building (like this one), but without BOOKS it's not a LIBRARY.

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Online catalog, request system, and renewal.

High limits on # of books.

Hours well into the evening so I can come by alone sometimes.

Children's section: places to sit and read together; few or no cheap character-themed books.

Lots of juvenile and adult non-fiction.

Documentaries on DVD and and classical music CDs would be nice in addition to audiobooks.

A couple of picnic tables outside would be great for snack time if you have the space.

 

Fundraiser idea: sell cloth tote bags with your library name/logo for those of us who will be carrying out a lot of books :)

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My first answer is what others have said - availability of books, easy to use online catalog, accessibility of interlibrary loan, etc.

 

My second answer is community programming. For us the library serves a special role in our hoemschool by providing free educational programming. Over the years for us that has included story time, kid music time, ballroom dancing, yoga, chess club, puppet shows, films and discussion, board game groups, and book groups. Most of these activities cost the library very little - it is more a matter of having space and opening it up to people from the community. It can be very difficult in a lot of communities to find free accessible public spaces and if the library can provide that space that means a lot.

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The comment on community programming reminded me of another thing - free meeting space.  One thing that's been invaluable to us as homeschoolers has been using the library for free meeting space for various group homeschooling events.  For a while we had the big room booked twice a week all year!  Of course the larger community uses the space extensively as well - we managed to book it in the sweet spot in the early afternoon between morning preschool programs and afterschool programs like scouts.

 

Other nearby libraries have much more restrictive policies on booking their meeting space.  Still free, but you can only book once a month, or you can only book one meeting at a time (and wait to book the next meeting till it's over).  Being able to book the same time weekly on an ongoing basis made it much easier to have things like our writing group and science labs.

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Actually cataloging the titles of the books for kids.  So that they can actually be reserved.  I didn't realize that this was done - but where we live now it is just 'juvenile fiction book 234576' - no idea how to tell WHAT book this is.  So annoying.  What book of the 20 we have at home is the one that is overdue? - no idea, it does not tell me the title.  Want to reserve the next book in a young adult series? -  nope, not possible because that is not how the book is in the system.  Want to see if they have any other books by author ABC? sorry, they are a young adult author so the books are not that way in the computer system.

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Actually cataloging the titles of the books for kids.  So that they can actually be reserved.  I didn't realize that this was done - but where we live now it is just 'juvenile fiction book 234576' - no idea how to tell WHAT book this is.  So annoying.  What book of the 20 we have at home is the one that is overdue? - no idea, it does not tell me the title.  Want to reserve the next book in a young adult series? -  nope, not possible because that is not how the book is in the system.  Want to see if they have any other books by author ABC? sorry, they are a young adult author so the books are not that way in the computer system.

 

Wow! I've never heard of such a thing. Is this just for the juvenile titles? How incredibly frustrating that must be.

 

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One unique but handy thing a smaller library does that we use is all reference books are shelved together except for picture early reader types. This makes it incredibly easy to browse the shelves and get something for everyone on a subject. All Lincoln biographies, children and adult, are in one place. All books on frogs etc. At first I was a bit appalled but now it makes life so easy. I can quickly find an appropriate narrative but I can also pick the book with the best pictures. Love it.

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Internet is CRITICAL for the poor and homeless. The first libraries that let the poor use the library--having free access to ANY books--was life changing. In modern times, internet for poor families is just as life changing.

 

For small libraries, it's critical that what is on the shelves is carefully chosen and constantly tweaked. The classics and books that have won awards should be prioritized over pop fiction at least for children.

 

Audio books are important for so many children that are not being taught to read in school. Audio at least increases their spoken vocabulary and that is NO small thing.

 

Friendliness and efficiency of staff is critical. I've been afraid to order books at some libraries, and at others I've just given up on ever receiving ordered books. Bigger libraries are sometimes very inefficient and cold, and impossible to get holds or interlibrary loans from.

 

Online holds, online renewing, and downloadable books and media are nice.

 

Unlocked clean bathrooms are great.

 

Story time for pre-schoolers is a wonderful community support.

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My local library put in children's museum style play areas right in the children's book section. Which can be nice in the winter time when the kids want a change of scenery. But most of the time it is the most frustrating part of library visits. Instead of eagerly looking through the picture books (like they used to), my children now run off to play. It completely removes any purpose in my bringing my children with me. I might as well reserve online and just run in to the hold shelf and check out books. They try to justify it by having suggestions of literacy games for parents to play with their kids at the stations. But I've never seen any parents doing that.

 

So that would be my main thing: don't put anything in the children's area that detracts from the books. I would include computers with easy game/internet access (no login required) in that "keep it out" category.

 

Most other things that I think are good have already been mentioned.

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No fines.  Really, we don't have them.

 

 

 

 

At my library I appreciate the computer system where I can look up books from home, place them on hold, and have them waiting for me to pick up. We are allowed 65 checkouts per card at a time. I have hit this limit a few times, so I am happy we are allowed so many. My library has quite a few children's audiobooks of classics, which we have borrowed extensively. We have also really made use of the documentary DVDs and nonfiction series like EyeWitness.

 

A Nice online catalogue. Ordering online. Knowledgeable people who answer emails. ...

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I loooove my library. :001_wub: :001_wub: :001_wub: It's pretty much perfect.

 

I'll second you on the children's section. There are no computers in our children's section except the ones that only connect to the card catalog. No video games, no videos at all, and very, very, very few character books. Almost none. (Children's videos are with the other videos in a separate section).

 

No fines. Really, we don't have them.

 

Great, easy interlibrary loans that I can order from my home computer. So if my library doesn't have it, I can get it easily.

 

Friendly, welcoming, helpful librarians. One librarian told me that some librarians from other libraries jibe them that ours would give a patron the potted plants off the floor if they asked. She laughed and said - yeah, we probably would!

 

ETA: We do also have the Teacher cards (also for homeschoolers) with longer check out times.

 

And... this is only a nice-to-have, not a must-have, but we can now get coffee, tea and cocoa in the library from a Keurig for $1. There are little cafe tables nearby that are also nice for studying.

I love no fines. I got rid of them at our library (I was the librarian). Patrons would come from other Towns to use our library because if this and ease if use of ILL.

 

we are currently using a library in another town, due to a weekly Dr appointment. I HATE not having a computer in the cisterns children's section! ! ! I have to go to the adult section to look up books for the kids. Go back, look. Go back to the computer for another search (while carrying around a 1yo and infant). We also don't have internet at home. I would like to be able to use the internet while My kids are quietly looking at books/puzzles etc.

Lastly, some toys are nice. Having 700 stuffed toys out and down low is annoying.

Enjoy being in the board. If you can go to system meetings, do it! If you can go into other libraries with in your system to see how things are set up, do it! Support your librarian. S/he was hired for the job, don't feel the need to micro manage.

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We have no fines on children's books.

 

High limit on the number of holds is very useful for history and literature.

 

Our library is sponsoring NaNoWriMo events where they set aside a room for people to have a write-in and they supply some library books to help with plot, writer's block, etc. Very low cost. Basically the cost of electricity from people plugging in.

 

I agree with a lot of the above so I'll add one thing:

 

I think it's good if a library sets a limit on how long they keep data about what patrons have read, or at least give patrons the option to not have that info stored. Privacy is essential to freedom. Here's an excerpt from the NYC public library system:

 

 

 

When you check out a book, video, DVD, CD, game or any other item from NYPL's circulating collections, we keep an electronic record of that transaction.  If the item in question is returned on time, the electronic record for that transaction is deleted from our integrated library system.  Except as set forth below, if the item is returned after the due date and the fine is paid when it is returned, the electronic record for that transaction is also deleted from our integrated library system. If an item is returned after the due date and the fine associated with that item is not paid when the item is returned, then we keep a record of that transaction until the fine in question is paid.  As a precaution, we also keep a record of information contained in our integrated library system on back-up files that are stored off site.  These files are purged on a rolling basis so that only four weeks of transaction history is kept at any given time. 

 

 

So basically not keeping records for very long as a matter of course or at the request of the patron. Libraries must provide records if legally and properly requested, but there are often no laws requiring that they keep all the info. With all the data integration and witch hunting these days I think it's essential libraries take their policies to the limit of what the law in their state will allow.

 

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I see others have mentioned this already but I want to agree that internet access via computers at the library is really a vital community service. I know people who would be even more disadvantaged without a way to do online only things at the library.

 

Our old library was one big open space. I always felt the need to keep the kids adult quiet. This was really hard, particularly with my spectrum child. So we didn't use it as much. They did have great children's programing though, and I really appreciated it. The new town has the children's area on it's own. There are board games and toys actually. No librarian looks at me with a glare when my child without volume awareness talks too loudly. So if the kids must be with adults, it would help if the librarians were clearly welcoming to kids.

 

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One thing about the activity area in the children's section.  I understand the annoyance at kids not wanting to choose books because they want to play.  Yeah, BTDT, but in our area, it really provides some quality toys and open ended playtime for many children in the community that do not have that at home.  There are kids who come once a week and their eyes light up and they will play contentedly for hours b/c they don't have anything to play with at home.  Even though it is an inconvenience for me, I do think it is a real blessing for those families that want more options for their children than what they can personally afford.

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It'd be great to not see some creeper's computer porn while in the check out line with my kids. :glare:

 

This is a huge issue in our library. Also, there are seriously sketchy people who sit just outside the doors, and use the Wifi for this purpose at all hours because it never gets turned off. Major problem and even the librarians feel threatened when they finish their shifts. :(

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I strongly second the no fines thing.  Some libraries are very harsh with their fines and due dates.  Others are more lax, though they do enforce eventually, they also accept that they will lose books and that's the cost of providing books to the masses.  I don't have data about this, but I certainly know which library seems like it will get more use and reach more people.

 

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Number one- actually having books.  I live in a place where there are bunch of individual small city libraries (even though it's really one big giant city), so none of them has all that many books.  And even the county library system doesn't seem to have hardly any at the branch that is actually near me.  We went there- shelf after empty shelf.  Where are all the books?  Why do I have to go online and request them from other county libraries to be shipped to the one by me for hold?  It's not that they are checked out of mine- they just don't have hardly any books.  Very sad.  You can have all the computers in the world, and a nice building (like this one), but without BOOKS it's not a LIBRARY.

We must be living in the same place.  The first time we went to the library here my children and I looked at each other because we thought we were simply not seeing what obviously must be there.  Nope, only a few shelves with a few books in a huge building.  There is a handful of small libraries in the area and the books circulate through them depending on where patrons drop them off so sometimes one will have a modicum of books on the shelves and another will have virtually nothing. 

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I can really only speak to the children's area.

 

  • Children are not made to be quiet (within reason).  There are lots of toys and games to play.  They have puppets and a "puppet stage" for kids to put on shows, a chess game set up for the kids to play, a Lego table, a doll house, a craft table and an audio book corner.  This is a great service to us, because the kids can participate in imaginative play with their friends while us moms connect with one another.  We all have to go to the library anyway, so why not connect with friends?
  • There are lots of free kids' programs.  
  • The local high school special ed program runs a small coffee shop, providing job training to its participants.  
  • They have glass cases that children can display whatever they want.  They just have to sign up for a time period.  
  • The library has bought almost every book that I have requested.  Since I have always used literature-based curricula, this has saved me a ton of money.  
  • The inter-library load system is fast, and the books available are abundant.
  • They have self check-out.  
  • They recently just added computer and internet access to the children's area.  The internet is too slow to do much that is worthwhile.  
  • I have access to all my account information on line.  I can even pay fines online.  

 

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One thing about the activity area in the children's section.  I understand the annoyance at kids not wanting to choose books because they want to play.  Yeah, BTDT, but in our area, it really provides some quality toys and open ended playtime for many children in the community that do not have that at home.  There are kids who come once a week and their eyes light up and they will play contentedly for hours b/c they don't have anything to play with at home.  Even though it is an inconvenience for me, I do think it is a real blessing for those families that want more options for their children than what they can personally afford.

 

At my mom's library they have the activity area separated from the book area. This also has the benefit that the kids area is large enough for run around play. It's basically a mini city complete with cozy coupes, a gas station, and several stores. At my library, with it in the children's book section, the kids run and then knock into patrons browsing at books. My library is right next door to the civic center/arena. Why couldn't the kids play stuff be there? It would still give that service to the community without reducing the library experience.

 

My kids no longer get the gleam in their eyes of "I can pick lots of books and take them home?!" Instead they rush off and completely ignore the books. That's my issue with the kids play area.

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I love that our local library is very open to book suggestions. There is such a form on their website and I often receive e-mails shortly after, informing me that they will be purchasing said suggested books. I like that they try to fill gaps when possible. Books bought from a patron's suggestion are automatically reserved for them first when it arrives in stock.

 

Our library also has a store. It's not run by the library themselves, but by an organization for fundraising on behalf of the library. Books donated to the store are sold at incredible prices and profits are given back to the library. Perhaps this is why they can afford to be so accomodating in book purchases. I've found many gems in this store and I'm grateful for their prices and sometimes hard to find books.

 

ETA: While our local library doesn't offer this, in the neighbouring towns the libraries have museum passes for borrowing. Saving $30 for a family pass seems great, and they give you 14 days to return it. We belong to the library system in a major city, as well, which also offers this for their local museums.

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I quit going to our library because I could never find anything there to read. Researching a topic...no books available on it for every single topic I have ever tried. Wait, we did pick up a couple on architecture once. Fun books...didn't take that long to read them. So, I started just purchasing books for my own use. I started donating books to the library. Good books. What did they do? Sold them. Honestly, they should have put them on their shelves. Did they use that money to purchase more books? No...I have no idea what happened to it. Probably went to DVDs. THey have an excellent selection of those. So, now I don't bother to donate either. I simply purchase anything I need. When my shelves get too full, I take them to McKays (used book store) and keep the $ myself. 

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We have no fines on children's books.

 

High limit on the number of holds is very useful for history and literature.

 

Our library is sponsoring NaNoWriMo events where they set aside a room for people to have a write-in and they supply some library books to help with plot, writer's block, etc. Very low cost. Basically the cost of electricity from people plugging in.

 

I agree with a lot of the above so I'll add one thing:

 

I think it's good if a library sets a limit on how long they keep data about what patrons have read, or at least give patrons the option to not have that info stored. Privacy is essential to freedom. Here's an excerpt from the NYC public library system:

 

 

 

So basically not keeping records for very long as a matter of course or at the request of the patron. Libraries must provide records if legally and properly requested, but there are often no laws requiring that they keep all the info. With all the data integration and witch hunting these days I think it's essential libraries take their policis to the limit of what the law in their state will allow.[/

 

I don't think my quote functions working quite right... having worked in the library, having the user history is WONDERFUL. particularly for older patrons. "yes you have read that book..." It also helps when patrons comment about an author they red last year and want to find again.

I like having the user history. it also helps us

what books

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Here are the things I love about our library:

 

-A massive collection of books, with a balance between classics and the more popular books that get people in the door.  I know us hsers love our classics, but you need the pop fiction stuff to keep circulation up, or else the city won't have much of a reason to fund the library. ;)  We can borrow from anywhere else in the state also, so it's rare that I can't get hold of a book I want.

-Lots of comfortable seating, and lots of little nooks and crannies and quiet areas for reading.

-A separate computer lab.  Ours is still within the library, but it's in its own separate, enclosed room so that we don't have to worry about kids seeing inappropriate stuff.

-Knowledgeable librarians.  Ours are great, especially the children's librarians.

-Events for the kids.  There are so many events at our library that we get worn out attending them all, lol.  Last year they even had a magician with real animals whose act was centered around history and books.  Awesomest thing ever. :D  We also have weekly story time, holiday parties, book clubs for all ages, community read alongs, etc.

-Great online content.  Ebooks through overdrive, magazines through zinio, tumblebooks for the kids.  And it's nice to be able to do all my renewing and ILL requests online.

-The free table.  Back by the library's used book store, there's a giant table where people can leave books, magazines, etc. they don't want.  We've picked up some great stuff there.  People love to leave unused hs curricula.  I can't tell you how many expensive programs I've picked up for free that way.

 

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decide what we should buy. can you please tell me why you were concerned that the libraries have a history, Idnib?

 

 

At our library you have to decide to opt-in to having your history stored. Probably many people to opt-in, but it's nice to be able to opt-out. I've checked out many books and if I want to keep a record of a book I write it down. If I check my history at the library it's empty except the books I currently have. I prefer it that way.

 

I think it's important for people to be able to fulfill their desires for knowledge on any topic such as terrorism, drugs, anti-government protests, NSA spying, particular diseases, mental health problems, etc without worry. I don't believe a person's circulation record should be tracked and possibly held against them.

 

Here's a page from the ALA regarding this topics:

http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=interpretations&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=132904

 

Personally, I don't want to wind up in some court case or other situation in the future and have my library records subpoenaed. I don't even check out books on controversial topics, myself. But I think in general it has a chilling effect on the flow of information if people feel the government or others may track or use against them their circulation records.

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At our library you have to decide to opt-in to having your history stored. Probably many people to opt-in, but it's nice to be able to opt-out. I've checked out many books and if I want to keep a record of a book I write it down. If I check my history at the library it's empty except the books I currently have. I prefer it that way.

 

I think it's important for people to be able to fulfill their desires for knowledge on any topic such as terrorism, drugs, anti-government protests, NSA spying, particular diseases, mental health problems, etc without worry. I don't believe a person's circulation record should be tracked and possibly held against them.

 

Here's a page from the ALA regarding this topics:

http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=interpretations&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=132904

 

Personally, I don't want to wind up in some court case or other situation in the future and have my library records subpoenaed. I don't even check out books on controversial topics, myself. But I think in general it has a chilling effect on the flow of information if people feel the government or others may track or use against them their circulation records.

do courts subpoena library records? Interesting.

while I can't say I've ever been worried about how my check out history would look... when I worked at library I did have a dummy account so I could request controversial material without my library colleagues knowing it was mine :-)

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Everything Mergath said..

 

with an  emphasis on maintaining a solid collection not just clearing out classic books to make space for repeated copies of the current "O list  type" popular books...   we need both...but to dump all the classics  to make room like our closest library did grr.

 

we have a local library in a more affluent area and dh works at a less affluent library in a city near by and hands down dh's is superior...they have a smaller but more rounded collection what it comes down to is personable service and a community that cares more about the library. 

 

the ebook system in our state is AWFUL...a decent ebook system really needs to develop as a compliment to the brick and mortar services...

 

and honestly poor dh spends so much time explaining to the elderly how to access the computer...  a volunteer tech liaison or flyers to a local  senior center  class is a good idea.

 

we need better ways of letting people know about the databases and collections and services libraries provide... there are still people in my area that think the library is a pay for service like netflix or cable...they don't know they can  access everything from books to online classical music and art collections. Librarians need to be  better PR i guess..

 

Dh's library and our local one provides great recommend lists for all ages which is helpful and have services for both kids and teens. 

There some bilingual programs and it would be good to see more. 

 

Of course I am partial but I like that my personal librarian is so cute  :001_wub:  but I am not sharing him...

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What makes a library great? Oh, and this is a very small town with a budget to match. :)

 

I'm afraid most of my wants and needs cost money:  more books, more hours, nicer spaces, more ILL.

 

However, I know my library runs a report every year, looking for books which haven't been checked out in a long time, and gets rid of those books.  I wonder if it is possible to do such a search, but instead of getting rid of books, use it as a way to highlight overlooked classics.  e.g. if the Guiness Book of World Records 1976 hasn't been checked out in a while, fine, get rid of that, but, if the Betsy-Tacy books haven't been checked out in a year, how about pull those out, and put them on display.

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I'm afraid most of my wants and needs cost money:  more books, more hours, nicer spaces, more ILL.

 

However, I know my library runs a report every year, looking for books which haven't been checked out in a long time, and gets rid of those books.  I wonder if it is possible to do such a search, but instead of getting rid of books, use it as a way to highlight overlooked classics.  e.g. if the Guiness Book of World Records 1976 hasn't been checked out in a while, fine, get rid of that, but, if the Betsy-Tacy books haven't been checked out in a year, how about pull those out, and put them on display.

 

I agree!  Also, for the last 9 years, our library has had the early-reader, series books pulled into a separate section.  MTH, Capitol Kids, Geronimo Stilton and the rest.  The last time we were there, we saw that they mixed them into the regular stacks.  Our librarian explained that they were hoping for more circulation from the regular stacks by having kids actually bump into the other books while looking for the early chapter books.  Here's hoping!

 

ETA: At the same time, some of our branches have the children's books mixed in with the YA and Adult books in the collection.  I hate that.

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What libraries need are patrons. If no one comes through the door then the funding for a library is going to get smaller and smaller and smaller. If no one uses a service then why fund it?

 

So, while I totally and 100% 'get' the no videos and no computers desire I will warn you that it is shortsighted in extreme. I am a person who doesn't own a TV at all. Our screentime is extremely limited. But, to remove all computers and videos etc from the library in either the adult or children's section is a fast way to shut a library down.

 

Have we checked out a fun video in addition to our books? Sure. Of course we have. We have also checked out educational videos that I couldn't get via netflix. Do we still get books? Well, by a vast majority, yes. Are there people who ONLY check out videos? Are there kids who come the library to only play games on the computer? Of course. Is it my place to judge them as library users? No. When did libraries become a way to impose my standards on other people? Librarians will tell you they are the opposite of that.

 

Are there ways to keep kids from viewing adult content on computers? Yes. In my library the kids computers are on the opposite side of the library from the adult computers. No one over a certain age is allowed to use the children's computers unless they are helping a child with the child's project and even then, the child must be the one sitting and using the computer, not the adult. It isn't actually much of problem. Children are only allowed to use a computer if a parent comes in and signs a permission slip. That permission slip has to be renewed every year. The internet capable computers are not the same as those that are used for searching the library database so there is no problem with those.

 

And yes, libraries need books. But even in communities like mine with a comparatively well funded and well stocked public library the move is away from stocking 'classics'. My dh is an academic librarian at a major library and they are moving away from replacing books that are available, for example, on Gutenberg. If a library has to pinch its pennies then why stock the shelves with books that people can easily download for free? I know, I know, it is a pain in the butt sometimes. I needed a copy of Robinson Crusoe last year and it was more difficult that I ever would have thought to just borrow a stupid copy from the library. Even with DH's library at work I could find many copies from 1797 (!) but other than that is was all 'network copy' which means e-book. I should add that his library also has a Gutenberg Bible, at least one Constitution and a Gettysburg address, and a bunch of stuff I don't even know about.

 

Libraries are competing for dollars and they need feet through the door and clicks on the website. Even DH's academic libraries put in cafes, CAFES IN A LIBRARY, PEOPLE!! Why? They are competing on campus for dollars they way they do that is feet through the door and bottoms in chairs. People said they hated not being able to get a cup of coffee in the library so the library gave it to them. They have to be able to prove that people are using the resources and in order to pay for the resources and staff then they need people through the door.

 

So a really great library is what the community wants it to be. if people want ebooks and audio books available via a great website then that needs to be available. If they are using the computers and the books are getting dusty, then the people who like the books need to borrow them and prove they are useful or the books will go. And if you want the library well stocked then you need to support the library so they have the funds.

 

 

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do courts subpoena library records? Interesting.

while I can't say I've ever been worried about how my check out history would look... when I worked at library I did have a dummy account so I could request controversial material without my library colleagues knowing it was mine :-)

 

I'm sorry I don't have time to make a longer post but I'm way behind on Thanksgiving prep. I haven't even one the shopping and must get out the door!

 

Here's an example from Emory University or what to do when presented with legal requests:

 

http://web.library.emory.edu/about/privacy-policy/subpoena-warrant.html

 

Note the Patriot Act provisions.

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ETA: While our local library doesn't offer this, in the neighbouring towns the libraries have museum passes for borrowing. Saving $30 for a family pass seems great, and they give you 14 days to return it. We belong to the library system in a major city, as well, which also offers this for their local museums.

 

That need doesn't apply really here (our museums are mostly free) but I've heard of that in other places and I think it's brilliant.

 

In general, I appreciate when libraries have collections of things people really want to use.  There's a library I read about that has a huge cake pan collection - the kind of character pans that you want once for a kid's birthday and then never need again.  I think libraries make themselves more popular and more used (which is what we should want) when they do those things.

 

I know we all want books, but a library without decent internet access these days is woefully outdated.  It needs to be a balance.

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That need doesn't apply really here (our museums are mostly free) but I've heard of that in other places and I think it's brilliant.

 

In general, I appreciate when libraries have collections of things people really want to use.  There's a library I read about that has a huge cake pan collection - the kind of character pans that you want once for a kid's birthday and then never need again.  I think libraries make themselves more popular and more used (which is what we should want) when they do those things.

 

I know we all want books, but a library without decent internet access these days is woefully outdated.  It needs to be a balance.

 

This reminded me. The town next door to us lends artwork. I imagine they are works that people have donated or who knows how they ended up at the library. But they have a big bin of framed art near the entrance. You check it out just like a book, only I think the lending period is longer -- a few months rather than three weeks. We have used it. Why not? It's kind of fun. :)

 

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