Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
Looking back at the year 2005, it was clearly a time when our services were evolving. Whether it was the growth in DVD usage mirroring the decline in VHS use or the similar predominance of books-on-CD over books-on-tape, there were many changes. I arrived in May as the new Director of Shaker Library—the seventh in its history—after nearly a one year vacancy in the position, but the momentum of library operations had hardly slowed from the record levels achieved in 2004. Construction on Lee Road during the last half of 2005 disrupted our “traffic” a bit, which resulted in a slight decline in total circulation. Nevertheless, we saw the third highest level of circulation on record. We will document the year in our annual report, which will be appropriately entitled, “Transitions.”
In the meantime, we are not really looking back—we are looking forward! One of the first programs of the year was a special “Go Live” training event to familiarize the public with our new and expanded downloadable audiobook services. We have provided both downloadable audiobooks and ebooks for some time but now offer more bestsellers that can be accessed by an unlimited number of individuals for download to their MP3 players. We see this technology as an interesting trend that should continue to grow.
We got our entire year of “Healthy, Wealthy & Wise” programs off to a healthy start on January 17 when we cut the cake for the 300th birthday of Ben Franklin and enjoyed an evening of his famous sayings as they were read by those in attendance from young children to senior citizens. In this context, it is worth noting that we have over 300 years of experience among the most senior members of the library staff. The Board routinely honors those with 20, 25, 30, etc., years of service with certificates of commendation. If we count up every Shaker Library employee who will have reached at least 20 years of service by the end of 2006, there are thirteen staff members with a combined total of 333 years of service to the library!
Ben would be proud of the library staff, but also, he would be proud of the way we are adapting to new technology in this changing world. Smith College Librarian Christopher Loring gave an interesting perspective on our “Google Age” in his Ivy 15 Lecture presentation entitled “With the Internet, Why Libraries?” From an academic library perspective, he described the way the Internet has changed operations and will continue to do so in the years ahead. Despite the eventual digitization and instant availability of all books ever printed—through projects such as Google’s “Book Search” program—Loring believes that academic libraries will remain vibrant centers of teaching, study and learning.
The 2006 Horizon Report from EDUCAUSE, a national nonprofit association dedicated to the advancement of higher education, outlines six key trends that will influence colleges and universities, including their libraries (and eventually public libraries). Within the next year, social computing and personal broadcasting will allow people to interact and communicate in ways and at levels not seen before. In the next two to three years, “phones in their pockets” and educational gaming will become more easily and intimately integrated into the delivery of education. Four to five years from now, technology will bring us to an “augmented reality and enhanced visualization” of the world we live in, as well as provide us with devices that respond to voice, motion, and other subtle signals.
While we look to the future, we continue to be grounded in the present taking care of the physical library. The eastern half of the Main Library roof restoration was completed last month and work began immediately on the western half—thanks to good cooperation from the weather! It is expected that remaining bond monies will be put toward new library security, inventory, and self service systems at both Main and Woods; improved computer hardware and networking capabilities; and the renovations of the last unfinished areas of the second floor of the Main Library and refurbishment of other areas. We will also write a grant application for the renovation of interior sections of the building.
Luren E. Dickinson,